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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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No ground to rest

Shyamal Banerjee, 70, a resident of Kali Kundu Lane in Howrah’s Shibpur, was a broken man after his pet German Shepherd died after a brief illness. A pall of gloom descended on the family with the death of a pet that had been a family member for 12 years. The family wanted to arrange a decent burial for its dog as a mark of last respect, however, they had no clue where to bury their pet.

“I rang the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) to know where a burial ground for pets could be found. But I was shocked when a civic employee suggested that we take our pet to the Belgachhiea trenching ground and dump him there,” said Banerjee. The dog, that they had nicknamed Poppy, died in the morning but till afternoon the family was clueless about a burial ground. “We were determined not to dump Poppy in the Belgachhiea trenching ground in the midst of stench. We were preparing to bury him in our courtyard when our neighbour gave us the phone number of Bibir Haat pet burial ground at Thakurpukur in South 24 Parganas,” said Banerjee, a retired employee of state tourist department. Finally, in the evening Banerjee took his pet to Bibir Haat pet burial ground and buried him there.

It’s not just the Banerjees who faced a problem finding a final resting ground for their pet. There are a number of families in Howrah that faced the same tribulation. There are no burial ground for pets in Howrah. Most of the people who want to arrange a decent burial for their beloved pets have to travel to Bibir Haat in South 24 Parganas.

“I faced the same problem when my pet died. I had no alternative but to take it to the Belgachhiea trenching ground and bury it there. I still feel guilty about burying my pet in a place surrounded by garbage with a powerful stench hanging in the air,” said Pradip Mukherjee, special officer (SO), conservancy department of Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC). He said that there was an arrangement for disposing off stray dogs and cats lying dead on the roads. “We have appointed an agency for disposing off the carcasses of stray dogs and cats. We ask people to dump the carcasses in the nearest vats from where the agency collects them and dumps them on the trenching ground.

Tapan Roy, a resident of Andul had a Spitz who was like his son. Roy did not try to take his dead Spitz either to the Belgachhiea trenching ground or to Bibir Haat pet burial ground. He buried him in his courtyard and decorated the spot with flowers. “I could not bury him in the trenching ground amidst the dirt and squalor. I do not have enough money and time to take him to Bibir Haat. So I decided to bury him in my courtyard near tulsi mancha (a raised platform where god and goddess are worshiped daily). At least, I can place flowers over his grave,” said Roy.

Mamata Jaiswal, mayor, HMC, admitted that there was a need for a burial ground in Howrah for pet lovers to bury their pets after death. “But right now we have no suitable place which could be turned into a pet burial ground. I shall try to select a spot that could be a place for burying pets,” said the mayor.