SHC orders formation of task force to address stray dogs’ issue

Updated October 23, 2019

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SHC is informed that around 16,359 anti-rabies vaccines are available in 313 hospitals across the province. — AFP/File
SHC is informed that around 16,359 anti-rabies vaccines are available in 313 hospitals across the province. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed all six district municipal corporations in Karachi to make immediate arrangements about detention and control of stray dogs.

It also asked the provincial government to constitute a task force to help out the DMCs.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar ordered the provincial health secretary to ensure that there must be no shortage of anti-rabies vaccine in all 29 districts of Sindh for treatment of dog-bite victims.

It also ordered the secretaries of the health and local government departments to expedite a proposed project to be launched in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation to retain dogs and release them after sterilisation and vaccination.

At the outset, health secretary Saeed Awan submitted a report in compliance with an earlier order on a petition about stray dogs and shortage of anti-rabies vaccines (ARV) at all government-run hospitals in the province.

The SHC is informed that around 16,359 anti-rabies vaccines are available in 313 hospitals across the province

He submitted that around 16,359 ARV were available in 313 hospitals including district health offices in the province.

Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Saif-ur-Rehman submitted that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation was looking after 14 hospitals, out of which four were general hospital — Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Sarfaraz Rafiqui Shaheed Hospital, Gazdarabad Hospital and Landhi Medical Complex — and anti-rabies vaccine was available there.

He said that the vaccines had been arranged by the KMC through its own funds and no financial assistance was provided by the LG department. He assured the bench that in future they would arrange vaccines as per requirement.

LG secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh was also in attendance. He submitted that his department had issued a letter last month asking the Karachi mayor, DMCs, town officers and town committees of the province to launch an effective and well-coordinated campaign to check dog-bite cases and culling of stray dogs.

The municipal commissioners of all the six DMCs of the provincial metropolis were also present in court and filed their comments.

They were of the view that they had already made efforts for culling of stray dogs.

In the last hearing, the DMCs expressed their helplessness to detain and control stray dogs due to a financial crunch.

However, the health secretary informed the bench that South, West, Korangi, Central and Malir DMCs had sent their requisitions for funds, whereas the municipal commissioner of DMC East submitted that he would send the requisition on Tuesday to the office of the LG secretary for consideration.

The bench observed that huge funds were not involved in launching a campaign against stray dogs, but an effort can be made with some limited resources if it was done willingly.

It directed all the municipal commissioners and the representatives of the DMCs to arrange vehicles and deploy staff in their areas to immediately handle the situation so that public at large may be saved form dog-bite incidents.

The court sought specific reports in the next hearing.

The bench also directed the LG secretary to constitute a task force to handle the situation and wherever required the task force — to be constituted by the provincial government — would help the DMCs.

The LG secretary also submitted that a project — street dog population control and fight against rabies — had been launched with the help of the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights.

He further said that several steps had been taken to launch the project and a model centre for TNR (trap, neuter and release) had been constructed in Ibrahim Hyderi in collaboration with the Indus Hospital to retain dogs for their sterilisation, vaccination and release.

He stated that the PC-I of the project had still not been prepared, adding that PC-I would be prepared within a week and be submitted to the planning and development department for approval.

The bench directed the health and LG secretaries to submit a progress report on Nov 7 and observed that since the matter was of grave importance they were also directed to expedite the proposed project and file a report stating when this project would be implemented in its letter and spirit.

A petition filed by Advocate Tariq Mansoor said that dog-bites incidents had been on the rise due to the failure of the provincial and local administrations in tackling the situation as stray dogs had not been dealt with. He also said in the petition that anti-rabies vaccines were not available at government-run hospitals.

CNG kits, cylinder fitness authority

The same bench on Tuesday directed the provincial authorities to expedite the process regarding the proposed draft bill of the Sindh CNG Kit & Cylinder Fitness Authority and sought a positive progress report till Nov 11.

Hearing a number of petitions about use of substandard CNG kits and cylinders in commercial vehicles as well as school vans, the bench also issued a show-cause notice to the chief inspector, explosives over his absence despite service of a notice.

Regarding the proposed legislation, the additional advocate general (AAG) submitted that the draft was being vetted by the law department.

The bench observed that the issue was very important but the provincial government was not giving it priority.

It directed the AAG to communicate to the chief secretary to expedite the process and a positive progress report should be submitted at the next hearing.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019