Palike asks Bengaluru residents to ‘Bag it’

A cardinal principle in administration and policy making is that one should never introduce a rule or law that cannot be enforced. The dangers are manifold — those who flout the rule get away with impunity, and the rest of the citizenry gets the message that laws mean nothing, they need not be obeyed. Take the BBMP’s latest decisions for ‘cleaning up’ the mess that the city has become.

Residents whose dogs mess up the pavements and public places, are now warned that they will be fined and penalised. Walk with me a short distance — less than 300 metres — along the east and south walls of ISRO’s headquarters off new BEL road in north Bengaluru, and you will have to step carefully every five or six paces, to avoid a pile of dog poo.

Pic: Ravi Kaushik

Pause awhile, especially in the mornings, and you can see a steady stream of residents from the well-off dollar colony and RMV extensions, walking their dogs (fancy breeds, some of them) on a leash, and stopping every now and then, to let their pet do its business, at the base of a lamp post or on the concrete slabs of the pavement. While the animal is at it, the owner will look the other way, as if pretending that he or she has nothing to do with the quadruped that is messing up a public place. And then they push off, dragging the animal along, till it decides to stop again, a few metres on, to relieve itself.

It is disgusting, revolting and unacceptable — but how is the BBMP going to enforce the rule about fining the offenders? Will there be inspectors standing along all pathways, to keep track and nab the offenders and collect a fine? Round the clock? And what about the lakhs of strays? Who is BBMP going to fine when these strays relieve themselves all over the place? Isn’t the proliferation of stray dogs connected to the other obligations of the city’s municipal corporation?

Instead of announcing a ‘rule’ without ensuring that it is enforceable, the BBMP is only making a fool of itself. Have they thought about the possibilities of enforcing the rule?

Abroad, people have pets too, and they do relieve themselves, but I have seen even well-to-do owners picking up the mess and putting it in a bag and dropping it in the appropriate bin. Go to places of tourist interest, like Ely cathedral in England, for instance and you will find notices along the approach roads in the city : "Bag it". And people do.

We have cameras to monitor vehicles that jump the red light at signals. Can we have cameras, perhaps, as an experimental measure to catch the offenders whose dogs mess up the place, and penalise them (it is easy once the owner and the pet are photographed).

Many of us have cell phones that double up as cameras, so it should be possible to click a picture when one sees a pet defiling the pavement. Which means that citizens’ involvement becomes crucial in enforcing public clean-ups. Or perhaps, RWAs can lend a hand through vigilance (again, by capturing pictures) and ensuring that the offence does not go unpunished.

About Sakuntala Narasimhan 69 Articles

Sakuntala Narasimhan is a Jayanagar based writer, musician and consumer activist.

4 Comments

  1. It’s all well for BBMP to say that they want dog poo to be bagged. But there has been no awareness spread on how exactly. As Ila mentions, there is no clarification on how to segregate or how to bag. Pet shops are few and far apart and pet products are not by any means affordable. Yet there are several kind souls who barely make ends meet, who keep Indian Native dogs as pets. So what are these guys expected to do? Walk into pet shops and pick up imported poop scoops and imported bags?

    And then there is the question of establishing ownership. Fancy dogs, with name tags and micro chips are a minority in the city. The majority are adopted dogs that live partly inside someones compound and partly on the streets. They are pets too. Someone feeds and cares for them. Are these guys omitted? So is the criteria then – “register your dog and you pick up poop. Don’t register and you are exempt?”

    And finally coming to the issue of strays. It’s a well known fact that if you have a squeaky clean surface, it is less likely to get defaced. NY subway example do be considered. Here we are talking about sidewalks and roads littered with all kinds of poop, including human (the most disgusting!). And we expect pet owners to overlook all of this and be model citizens just picking up after their dog. Does any of this sound realistic or well thought out, or a sad attempt at imitating some policies that work in other parts of the world?

  2. I have been picking up after my dog for the past two years now. till recently I would dump the bag in the road sweeper’s bin. Now that the trash has to be separated what do i do? None of the pet shops stock biodegradable bags. I have asked a friend to get them for me from outside the country. but till then, I still need to dispose the waste. So what do I do. Ila Urs

  3. I am facing this dog poo in our apartment complex of 285 houses and actively mailing to curb this menace as walking isn’t enjoyable instead one has to watch only one’s each and every step. Most of the petowners are insensitive as they think their houses are clean, let their drivers / maids/ or themselves ignore it with impunity. Spitting is also very common everywhere in India, they think its their birth right to spit and blow their nose anywhere.

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