Unless the ambit of the law in dealing with the stray menace is widened, the Corporation will be found wanting in chasing away this growing life-threatening risk to motorists on city roads.
In several areas, including Choolaimedu in the metropolis, goat owners have been emboldened to let their goats roam on the streets and graze around garbage bins. “For the last few months, some people are letting their goats forage on the streets. These goats tend to eat garbage. If 10-15 stray goats are there how do you expect the motorists to negotiate?” asks M Vishnu, a resident of Sriramapuram in Choolaimedu. He said the situation is much worse on Athreyapuram Main Road, where garbage bins are usually overflowing.
When asked whether the civic body would take action against the owners of stray goats, a Chennai Corporation official said there are no rules to impound the stray goats and penalise goat owners. “We are given powers to capture stray cows and penalise the owners. We are doing this based on an order issued several years ago. But, we do not have any such order to impound goats. If we do impound them, there would be no legal backing for us,” he added.
The civic body, in a bid to go tough against the cow owners letting them stray on roads, had increased the fine amount to Rs 10,000 from April 2018. Earlier, the civic body was collecting Rs 1,000 from the cow owners if they let the cows on roads. In addition to Rs 10,000 fine, the civic body fixed Rs 750 as maintenance cost for three days to meet the cost of feed. Earlier, the maintenance cost was Rs 300 for three days. If the same cow is captured by the civic body again, it would be handed over to NGOs for further maintenance.
Despite the stringent rules, several cow owners let their cattle on to the road to cut down on the money spent on feed. The practice is continuing as the officials had impounded as many as 622 cows from January 1 to December 31. “Already stray cows have a free run on roads. Now, the practice of letting the goats feed on the garbage is increasing. The Chennai Corporation should curb the practice by regulating rearing of goats without proper facilities and take action against those letting goats on the roads, lest others get emboldened," Vishnu added.
Vishnu uses Athreyapuram Main Road every day to commute and has to be extra cautious as goats roam on the street where garbage bin lies. “If I hit a goat, I will be in trouble as the owner would ask me to compensate for any loss caused to him.”
It is learnt that the goat owners earn anything between Rs 6,000 and Rs 8,000 based on the size of the goats as the price of goat meat has been increasing in the city. “If one owner earns Rs 50,000 by rearing 10 goats, his neighbours will also be encouraged to do the same. They are saving on the expenses of goat feed by letting them eat garbage. We have to control the practice before it proliferates," said the official.
The official explained that the police were impounding the stray cows in the city several years ago after which they requested the civic body to take over the responsibility. Meanwhile, the High Court also ordered us to regulate the cow rearing in the city, not to prevent it. Following this, orders and resolutions were made entrusting the works to the veterinary section of the civic body. “But the order clearly states that it is about impounding cows only. If an order is passed to impound stray goats, we will do that as well,” he said.