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Pig drive resumes, 10 picked up

Pigs inside the garbage truck of the civic body.
Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Ten pigs were picked up on Wednesday with the resumption of the hunt for the animals after a two-day break.

The 10 pigs were picked up from Behala. The tally of pigs picked up so far from Calcutta has reached 44.

Mayoral council member (health) Atin Ghosh said on Wednesday the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) was going slow on the drive as it lacked space to accommodate all pigs in the city. Ghosh said a rough estimate suggests that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 pigs in Calcutta.

“We lack space for that many pigs. We cannot just dump them anywhere. We have to give them food and also build proper accommodation for them,” said Ghosh.

Following a plea from the civic body, the animal resources department is scouting for land large enough to accommodate the pig population of Calcutta.

“They have to build a shelter large enough for the pigs of Calcutta and other municipal areas, too,” said Ghosh.

The 44 pigs picked up so far have been kept inside a garbage truck in the CMC’s garage on Dhapa Road, behind Silver Spring on the EM Bypass. The inside of the van is dark as it is covered on all sides.

Civic officials in the garage have poured water into the truck to keep the animals cool. They have also thrown in waste so that the animals have something to feed on.

The civic body started the pig drive on Saturday, though Ghosh and several other officials and leaders of the Trinamul-run CMC board have insisted there is no threat of Japanese Encephalitis in Calcutta.

Public health experts have spoken in the same vein, too, as the city is about 360km from the encephalitis-hit zone.

One hundred and eighteen people have died from the disease in north Bengal since January.

The drive continued on Sunday but was stopped on Monday and Tuesday because both police and CMC officials were involved in Id-related work. There is no decision yet on whether people who own the pigs will be compensated.

The CMC has written to the secretary of the animal resources department asking whether compensation should be given to the owners.

The animal resources department of the state government has a fixed rate for compensating owners of animals.

“We are yet to receive any reply from the state government,” said Ghosh.

The mayoral council member had said on Tuesday that the drive against pigs would continue even after the threat of Japanese Encephalitis was brought under control since the CMC aimed to clear the city of pigsties.