A life of burden for these animals indeed

A life of burden for these animals indeed

Once considered a royal ride, horse and pony carriages in the City have been reduced to goods carriages.

They are often found carrying heavy iron rods to PVC pipes, way beyond the animal’s capacity.
At places like KR Market, Minerva Circle, JC Road, Kasturba Road, Shivajinagar and Tannery Road, one cannot miss the sight of these overloaded carriages.

Sadly, the malnourished animals, apart from bearing the brunt of their masters’ commands, have to compete with maniac motorists and unmindful honkers. What is even more appalling is that traffic police have turned a blind eye to these overloaded carriages.

According to Section 11 (a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if any person beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal with unnecessary pain or suffering, he will be penalised and even imprisoned. But, the traffic police so far have taken least action.

Additional Commissioner (Traffic) B Dayanand said that he was aware of the existence of carriages. “There was a campaign by animal rights activists some time back to ban the carriages, but we need to examine the legal aspect to take a call on such a ban,” he added.

Though efforts were made to ban use of any kind of animals on City roads in early 2000, the ban was immediately revoked after pressure from pony owners.

However, there is still a ban on the use of animal carriages on Mahatma Gandhi Road, Ambedkar Veedhi and surrounding areas.

The ban is not being enforced for the fear that it might cause communal tension, says R Shantakumar, Animal Welfare Inspector, CUPA, who has made efforts to pressure the government to penalise the overloaded carriage riders.

“Many pony owners rent their animals for a fixed amount. So these riders make more than six carriage trips transporting goods beyond the animal’s capacity. There is a need for a greater awareness to stop this cruelty,” Shantakumar added. 
  
It is estimated that there are 200-300 families in the City which depend on these carriages for their livelihood.

Alim Azad, who owns a pony and recently bought an auto-rickshaw, said although he earns some money using the pony, he does not like to use the animals on the City’s roads.

“It is a real torture for the animal when it is made to run along with other vehicles on the road. Policemen and motorists complain about slow moving traffic, but there is no other way,” he added.
Azad said that most of the families are ready to give away their animals for a mini goods van, but none of the banks have come forward to give loans. 

“If the government can help us with the capital, we will definitely give away the ponies and opt for an alternative motorised transport,” he said.

Samabhava is the only NGO working for the rescue and rehabilitation of horses and ponies in Bangalore and houses 17 animals in its shelters.

Sandesh Raju, the founder of the organisation, is helping the pony owners with regular doses of vaccination and medical treatment.

“It is sad to see ponies abandoned on the streets by their owners after learning about their health problem. We need to educate the people in the carriage business and provide them help so that they can switch to motorised vehicle,” he added.

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