In Mudhol, stray pigs are No. 1 public health issue

Governance Health

The CMC of Mudhol taluk is oblivious to the public nuisance and health hazard posed by stray pigs

Mudhol in Bagalkot district, known for its famous hounds, has a huge number of stray pigs which are causing public nuisance and endangering public health. The municipality is not doing anything to control their population.

The Observer found a sow, with a festering wound on its forehead, crossing a busy street. Flies swarmed around the open wound as it joined its herd in an adjacent gutter. Sangeetha Shitole, whose home is adjacent to the gutter, said: “We are used to the pigs and the stench. It has been the same for the past few years. When pigs die in gutters, the city municipal council takes no action till there are worms on the dead animals. The problem of pigs is seen throughout the town.”

Pigs roamed both sides of the town’s streets, toppling bins and eating garbage. As the animals crossed the roads, two-wheeler riders and motorists had to halt abruptly, creating traffic jams.

Sayyad, a fruit vendor near the bus stand, said: “The pigs have posed a problem for a long time. They topple the dustbin I have kept near my cart and eat from it. This makes the place stink all the time.” Asked if this has affected his sales, he shared: “Customers are used to such scenarios throughout the town So, it doesn’t affect my sales.”

Parvati, a shopkeeper, said: “The pigs eat human waste and roam the locality, making people feel disgusted. Some of the pig owners live in the next lane, Bajantri Street. We have complained to them, but they have ignored our complaints. Repeated complaints to the CMC are of no use.”

Section 223 of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964, puts the onus on municipalities to dispose of stray pigs. It says pig owners should have written permission from municipal commissioners, and avoid public nuisance. Violation of the clause will invites a fine of up to Rs 50.

Santosh, health inspector of Mudhol, said: “To manage the population of pigs, a contractor is employed. He collects the stray pigs and sells them in other places. But the contractor does not do his duty.”

Municipal commissioner Ramesh Jadhav said: “There is a beneficial aspect of having a pig population. Here, open defecation is common. Since pigs eat human excreta, they help in keeping the town clean. Any place which does not have pig population can never be a clean city.”

But the threat they pose to public health cannot be discounted.

Dr Ashok Suryavamshi, chief medical officer of the Mudhol Taluk Government hospital, said, “The pigs pose a public health hazard as they feed on human waste. This can result in various communicable diseases like cholera which can turn epidemic.”

Stray pigs are not a problem confined only to Mudhol. The problem is prevalent in other towns of Karnataka as well. The Deccan Herald, in October 2019, reported that the Supreme Court stayed the order of Karnataka High Court directing the Davanagere City Corporation to catch stray pigs and relocate them to other areas. The high court ordered that the commissioner should pay from his salary for relocation of pigs and that the municipality should set up spaces for pig rearing.

The commissioner, in his plea before the apex court, argued that “allowing stray pigs to roam freely within the city limits would cause diseases such as salmonellosis, ringworm, hepatitis E, H1N1, swine flu, brucellosis, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, anthrax, malaria and dengue”. He also spoke about how stray pigs pose a threat to the sewage management system.

The Hindu reported in November 2017 how illegal pig rearers attacked pig catchers hired by municipal bodies.


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