The recent rules of the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida) on pets and community animals are neither in accordance with Animal Welfare Board of India guidelines nor in conformity with central laws, prominent animal rights activist Ambika Shukla said on Monday.
The authority in a board meeting on Saturday had announced a pet policy that had a steep increase in the registration fee for pets, a fine of Rs 10,000 in case a pet dog or cat attacks someone and creating of shelters for aggressive dogs by resident welfare associations, among others.
The rules were drafted "in a hurry" as a "knee-jerk reaction" to the prevailing "hype and hysteria" rather than an informed, rational policy guided by scientific study, sound judgement, legal clarity and expert input, she said in a statement.
Calling the policy a "doomed experiment" at the taxpayers' expense, Shukla said the rules assign only responsibilities to pet owners without assuring them any rights to shared usage of all standard facilities and public areas such as lifts and parks.
The proposed fine of Rs 10,000 to be levied by the authority in case of a pet dog or cat attack is a "shocking ignorance of the law", she said.
"This is already listed as an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Therefore, no other authority may take action in the same regard. It is the equivalent of the authority fining car owners for accidents, criminals for theft or animal abusers for cruelty. It is unlawful," the activist, who is also a trustee in the People for Animals, asserted.
Shukla said charging owners for registration of pets implies that the authority provides certain services for those pets and their owners.
"What, if any, are these services? In other states, these services range from free immunisation to microchipping, annual veterinary examination and so on. Here it is being imposed as a fine against keeping pets, and the steep charges are already the subject of a court challenge with the matter being sub-judice," she said.
The activist claimed these high charges are in violation of a citizen's fundamental right to keep pets that have been declared "family" by the court.
The threat of fines will force people to cruelly abandon their pets in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, adding to the street dog population, she said.
Shukla said the steep hike in pet registration fees goes against the Uttar Pradesh government's recent proposal that up to 10 Indian dogs may be adopted without paying any registration fee, and they will be provided free vaccination and sterilisation too.
On the issue of feeding points, she said, the Animal Welfare Board of India has mandated feeding points to be fixed within each society by dog feeders along with the management.
"First, who would decide what constitutes 'aggressive' and second, those who wish to be rid of dogs can hardly be tasked with taking care of those canines requiring special treatment and care. There is neither domain experience nor aptitude nor inclination," she said.
The policy came days after a seven-month-old child was mauled to death by a stray dog inside a posh group housing complex in Noida, triggering protests by local residents. On an average, the Noida authority gets 8-10 calls daily related to stray dog menace, including biting incidents, and for demands on increasing sterilisation of such canines, an official had said after the October 18 incident.