Facing stray animal menace for a long time, the Kullu district administration is all set to intensify its drive against the same, with a tender care. Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus said that a multi-pronged strategy is required to deal with this issue, which not only includes catching the animals, but also their rehabilitation, and for this we have launched SPARSH (Society for protection and Rehabilitation of Stray and Helpless Animals).

Besides, aiming to give fillip to resolve the stray cattle, the thrust is also being laid to safeguard the life and health of the stray animals, to begin with the stray cattle, major stake holders that include NGOs, Gram Panchayats, major developmental projects, industries, farmer organisations and the general public are being involved.

“The initiative arose owing to the stray animal menace having always been a major concern not only in the entire state, but also the fact that Kullu is a tourist destination, he said, adding that the with debilitating cold conditions in winter in Kullu district the stray animals are troubled with starvation and end up being killed on the highway. This not only poses risk to their own lives, but also human beings,” he said.

Initially to get it started, the district administration through its own resources has generated a separate corpus fund of Rs 10 lakh for it and is looking forward for support and donations from the people, he added.

Under SPARSH two helpline numbers have been launched, sub-divisional level field teams with grassroots functionaries of all departments will be established, which will respond to cases of stray animals reported on a helpline number and will transport them to the nearest shelter or ‘Gausadans’ (cow shelter), said he.

District level team under the Chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner and related departments will be established for a monthly review of tasks undertaken for rehabilitation of the stray animals, said Yunus, adding that ‘Master Gausadan’ at District level and ‘Gausadans’ in block levels will be set up and will be monitored under the aegis of this society.

Other components of the initiative includes a pilot initiative to tag fluorescent collars to any cattle belonging to owners at fringes of a highway, so as to increase their visibility and prevent accidents lest they wander on to the highways.

Giving utmost importance to the success of the scheme and sustainability of the caretaking institutions that include ‘Gausadans’ revenue generating options will also be taken care for efficient use and sale of cattle bi-products.

According to the 19th Livestock Census 2012 in Himachal Pradesh there were 32,160 stray cattle, 30,736 in rural, while 1424 in urban areas. Kangra district has the highest stray cattle with 10,791, followed by Shimla 5,091`, Kullu 3401, Solan 2690, Mandi 2593, Hamirpur 2317, Una 2092, Bilaspur 1609, Kinnaur 915, Sirmaur 404, Chamba 244 and Lahaul and Spiti district 13.