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Dogfight over bark brigade
- Salt Lake resident uproar drowns mandarin complaint over canines

It’s a dog’s life for the elite satellite township’s... dogs. Caught between the bark of Salt Lake bureaucrats and the bite of Salt Lake dog-lovers, the administration has its task cut out.

A request from a senior Salt Lake resident-cum-bureaucrat and a few other heavyweights to “silence” the township’s dogs has forced North 24-Parganas district magistrate H.K. Dwivedi to get cracking.

He has ordered sub-divisional officer Baidyanath Mandal to “do something” to control the “canine population”. Mandal has, in turn, asked NGO People For Animals (PFA) to sterilise the dogs.

The NGO has however, refused to pay heed to the administration till it gets a plot in the township and till it stops being “humiliated” and receiving threat-calls from people who claim to be Salt Lake residents.

The plot to “silence” the dogs started a few days ago. District magistrate Dwivedi received a call from a senior bureaucrat to “do something” so residents could get some sleep.

“But I am not a dog-hater,” Dwivedi clarified on Thursday. “I have not issued any official circular, but just asked SDO Mandal to control the canines by sterilising them,” he added.

Mandal contacted the PFA, asking it to round up the dogs and sterilise them. But an avalanche of allegations — both to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s office and the municipal authorities — seems to have botched up the plans.

The allegations were “serious”, admitted Salt Lake officials. “The NGO is alleged to have picked up dogs from the township, which do not find a place in their pound,” senior Bidhannagar Municipality officials said.

The number of signatories to the complaint — all bona fide residents of Salt Lake — was “too large” to ignore, they added. The residents accused the NGO of slaughtering the dogs in the name of sterilisation.

PFA spokesperson Debasis Chakrabarti admitted that not every dog picked up from Salt Lake had survived. “Many die of rabies,” he explained. “Besides, it’s impossible to work properly when you get threat-calls everyday from dog-lovers and your workers are humiliated on the streets when they are on the job,” he said. The PFA will not work in the township till it was given a plot there (it now has a pound at Dhapa, a few km from Salt Lake).

Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta, caught between the two lobbies, said he would not like to get involved in the controversy. But he revealed that the municipality was planning to give a plot to the PFA at Mollar Bheri to carry on the canine crusade.

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