The Delhi High Court on Monday (April 27) sought response of the Centre and AAP government on a plea seeking directions to them to provide food and water to stray animals during the coronavirus lockdown.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh issued notices to the Ministry of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, Delhi government, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the municipal bodies here.
The bench sought their reply on the petition by June 10, the next date of hearing.
Advocate Gauri Puri, who appeared for the petitioner, said the high court also asked the Delhi government to issue travel passes on sympathetic grounds to animal welfare volunteers during the lockdown.
The Central government standing counsel, Anurag Ahluwalia, accepted notice for the ministry.
The order came on the plea by Arti Puri who has been working for welfare of animal for the last 15 years.
She contended that stray dogs and other animals are largely dependent on garbage and left over food from restaurants, canteens and marketplaces, all of which have been shut down in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Even those private persons who were feeding them are not venturing out of their homes due to the lockdown, and therefore, the strays are suffering from starvation, the plea said.
It was further contended that while the governments were taking adequate measures to ensure the poor and needy get food, no such steps are being taken for stray animals.
The petitioner submitted that the failure to take any action could result in deaths of countless stray animals due to starvation and it could lead to another epidemic as the limited municipal staff engaged in sanitisation of colonies and garbage collection, would be unable to dispose of the dead animal bodies.
“Apart from loss of animal life, a situation will also arise where the stray dogs in particular, enter into other territories searching for food and display aggressive behaviour towards humans in search of food,” the petition said.
It also said that presently only a handful of NGOs and volunteers are ensuring that stray animals are fed in very limited areas of Delhi.
Further, due to lack of adequate fund and support, as also penal consequences that may entail for violation of the lockdown order, the volunteers are unable to take care of the several starving stray animals in the national capital, the petition said.
The plea has also sought directions to the Animal Welfare Board of India to establish a committee to ensure adequate food and water is being provided to stray animals.