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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Amid the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started distribution of food and water to stray animals across the city, in what is a noble gesture for the speechless souls.

The initiative which is being carried out under the leadership of BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary to help the animals suffering on streets, will have three vehicles for three zones of Bhubaneswar- North, South and Central.

Staffed with four persons from BMC and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department, the vehicles started from the sub-divisional veterinary officer (SDVO), Shahid Nagar at around 8 am on Wednesday carrying biryani, khichdi and two drums of water for the dogs and cattle feed for bulls and cows. The vehicles also got utensils to be used to serve the food for dogs and cattle.

[caption id="attachment_443480" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation provides food to stray dogs and cattle Image Source: Twitter/BMC[/caption]

The service will continue until the lockdown period is in force.

While the capital city currently has got around 1500 bulls and more than 40000 stray dogs, on Day-1 BMC could cover around 1000 stray cattle and 10000 dogs.

The civic body has reportedly formulated an SOP for this animal welfare programme and will ensure preparation of food worth Rs 20000 every day for dogs, bulls and cows. As the stray dogs, bulls and cows form the major chunk of the animal population, Rs 12000 and Rs 8000 respectively will be spent on dogs and bulls/cows respectively.

Notably, the Odisha government sanctioned Rs 54 lakh to feed stray animals in various cities and towns across the State keeping in mind their struggle to find food during the ongoing lockdown.

Thousands of stray animals in the state are having a hard time finding food as markets, eateries and hotels are closed due to the 21-day lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The state government has approved Rs 54 lakh from the Chief Ministers Relief Fund to five municipal corporations and 48 municipal corporations and 48 municipalities for feeding the stray animals during the lockdown period, stated housing and urban development department in a letter to commissioners of several municipal corporations and executive officers of municipalities in the State.

As per the decision, BMC has been granted Rs 20000 per day for feeding the animals, while the urban local bodies of Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur will get Rs 10000 daily for the purpose. Similarly, all the municipalities will get Rs 5000 each.

It is pertinent to note that the Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department has granted Rs 3.60 lakhs to BMC for food only. Other expenses, if any, would be met by BMC.

However, any organisation desiring to take part in this work cannot distribute the food to stray animals directly. The SOP has asked to contact the deputy commissioner concerned to take part in the programme.

As of now, frontline civil society organisation 'People for Animals' Jagatsinghpur and Nayagarh branch are actively involved in this initiative of the urban body.

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