Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Link between poor Solid Waste Management and Stray Dog Attacks


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Stray dog attack incidences

stray dog

Central idea: Several incidents of stray dog attacks in Indian cities have shed light on the link between urban solid waste management and the issue of stray dogs.

Stray Dog Attacks in India

  • Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population, which as per the official 2019 livestock census stood at 1.5 crore.
  • However, independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
  • The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
  • Experts agree there may be a correlation between urbanisation and solid waste production, made visible due to the mismanagement of waste disposal.
  • Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Reasons behind

  • Poor waste management: Inadequate waste disposal facilities and the mismanagement of solid waste often lead to the congregation of stray dogs around garbage dumps and landfills, where they scavenge for food.
  • Unplanned urbanization: The population boom in Indian cities has led to a sharp increase in the stray dog population. Rapid urbanization has led to the creation of slums and unmanaged solid waste, which attract dogs.
  • Lack of food and shelter: The availability of food and shelter determines the carrying capacity of a city. In the absence of these facilities, free-ranging dogs become scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
  • Territoriality: Stray dogs often become territorial and aggressive about public spaces where they are fed, leading to increased attacks on humans.
  • Improper sterilization and rescue centres: Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Food wastage in India

  • A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste production. Indian cities generate more than 150000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.
  • According to a 2021 UNEP report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers ended up in households, restaurants, vendors and other food service retailers’ bins in 2019.
  • Indian homes on average also generated 50 kg of food waste per person.
  • The presence of free-roaming dogs in urban areas is determined by the “carrying capacity” of a city, which is the availability of food and shelter.

Urban Stray Dogs and Waste Disposal

  • Food and shelter: The wastage food often serves as a source of food for hunger-stricken, free-roaming dogs that move towards densely-populated areas in cities, such as urban slums which are usually located next to dumping sites.
  • Sanitation assists food hunt: In the absence of proper sanitation and waste disposal facilities, stray dogs become scavengers that forage for food around exposed garbage dumping sites.

Impact of Unplanned and Unregulated Urban Development

  • ABC Program: Under Animal Birth Control (ABC) program, municipal bodies trap, sterilize, and release dogs to slow down the dog population. This approach aims to control the number of strays while avoiding the inhumane practice of killing them.
  • Rabies Control Measures: Another anchor of India’s response is rabies control measures, including vaccination drives. Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans through dog bites. Thus, preventing rabies is essential in addressing the issue of stray dogs.
  • Informal Measures: These include mass killing of dogs in states like Kerala, which is a controversial practice as it is often inhumane and does not address the root causes of the issue. Other measures include imposing bans on the entry of stray dogs in colonies or feeding them in public.

Why address stray dog attacks issue?

  • Adds Vulnerability to the poor: The disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums, which are usually located in close proximity to dumping sites.
  • Exposes harsher realities: The rise in such attacks speak to core issues of lack of serviced affordable urban housing for all, lack of safe livelihood options and improper solid waste management”.

Empathizing the strays

  • Abandoned, not strayed: Stray dogs are sentient social beings capable of feeling pain, fear, and joy. Urban living patterns have largely impacted their abandonment.
  • Subjected to abuse: They are often victims of neglect, abuse, and abandonment, and are forced to survive in harsh conditions on the streets.
  • Neglected community guardians: Stray dogs can serve as community guardians by alerting us to potential dangers and can also provide emotional support to humans.

Way forward

  • Improve waste management: Efficient management of solid waste can help reduce the availability of food for stray dogs and limit their population growth.
  • Increase vaccination and sterilization: ABC and vaccination programs should be implemented in a more organized and efficient manner to control the stray dog population and the spread of rabies.
  • Encourage responsible feeding practices: Regulating feeding around bakeries and restaurants and improving waste management in public spaces can reduce the carrying capacity of the environment for stray dogs and minimize the congregation of dogs in certain areas.
  • Develop national policy: There is a need for a comprehensive national policy that addresses the issue of stray dogs and their management in a more systematic and humane manner.
  • Stop gruesome brutality: Stopping brutality towards dogs is a crucial step towards creating a more compassionate and just management of stray dogs menace.


Also read:

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022. Why is it needed?

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