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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The False Notions Peddled in India about Westerners

This is a fantastic story of a woman who started giving away excess garden produce for free and then others started also leaving their excess produce for others - poor or just sharing people, to take as they need. Lou Ridsdale started "Food is Free" 6 years ago in Ballarat in  Victoria and its still going strong.

Our friend sent this little video from Australia. 

I had never bothered to travel abroad before 2014... I was also told by elders that all civilization, all culture, all history, was really only in India, and not elsewhere ! 

I bought the crux of this thinking, but began to Q this recieved wisdom when about ten years ago, i deeply read about WW2 and its aftermath in Europe. 

Mainland Europe - and Britain, were in 1945 at the end of the war, bombed out ruins over large parts.. Agriculture, sewage, water systems, train stations and bridges were destroyed.. 

1 % British, 6 % of Austrians, 8 % of Germans, 9 % of Greeks and Yugoslav people and 17 % Poles were dead as a result of the war. 

All other countries in Europe had also lost large nos. of their people. 

There were large food shortages in Europe towards the end of the war and after it, even resulting in mass starvation in a few countries.

India had suffered too ofcourse, with 2 million dead in the Bengal famine in 1943 because of British mismanagement, and a further 2 million dead during the partition riots in 1947 (0.5 % of the population of undivided India). 

A lakh soldiers from India had also perished in WW2, fighting on the British side. 

So Europe set to rebuilt itself, and so did India, 2 years apart - 1945 and 1947. But the difference, even between the poorer economies of East Europe, and India, is vast. Even if they did have a head start on industrialization, and had exploited other regions of the world, this did not fully explain to me, why we were so much behind.

I decided to travel to these countries to get a better sense of this.. so my family and I went to England, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and mainland Europe in different trips from 2014-2017. These were in the nature of study tours.. I had Qs I wanted answered.

Ofcourse these trips of 2 weeks each to a country were too small for in-depth study, but I did get some answers to Qs on farming, attitude to water supplies, degraded land, and the work ethic. And public transportation systems, urban planning et al..

But the most important learnings were about people.. I had been told Westerners did not value family life - which was patently false in my experience. The people we met also had meaningful friendships where they did a great deal to help each other out. 

Most impressive was, that I have not met a single person in these nations who DID NOT volunteer frequently for causes they believed in.

The very elderly also in New Zealand and Britain, some of them on wheelchairs, volunteered in churches, changing flowers, guiding people, and collecting money to train guide dogs to help disabled people.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Update on Locust Invasion end May-Beginning June 2020

  • Last reported locations of Locust swarms in India
  • Threat from Locusts to three Districts in Punjab
  • These are immature locusts which pose a greater threat
  • The threat from locusts is to wildlife also
  • Efforts by Rajasthan against Locusts
  • Natural control methods adviced by University in Maharashtra
  • Why Helicopters have not been pressed into service against locusts
  • Helicopter Sprayers will start arriving from Britain around mid-June
Outlook : Last reported locations of Locust swarms in India are in MP/Maharashtra : Locusts crossed into Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh from eastern Maharashtra on Thursday afternoon, a senior agriculture department official had said.
Earlier on Thursday, officials had said the swarms were moving eastwards, towards Gondia district of Maharashtra after entering Bhandara from Nagpur district on Wednesday.

Tribune : Threat from Locusts to three Districts in Punjab : Sources in the Agriculture Department said the primary threat was to areas of Fazilka, Muktsar and Bathinda districts, which are located close to Rajasthan. “At present, the locust swarms which entered India from Pakistan have caused losses in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Like Punjab, the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are also on alert,” an official said.

The Hindu : These are immature locusts which pose a greater threat : Last year, mature locusts had entered parts of India after a gap of 26 years. But the locusts that have come in this year are immature. Immature locusts are not fully grown and have the capacity to cause more harm. They also have a longer lifespan. The locusts which entered India were about 10-12 days old and were flying huge distances in search of food. Since the Rabi crop harvesting is over and the Kharif sowing season is yet to begin, they were unable to find any vegetation.

Mongabay : The threat from locusts is to wildlife also : In terms of the environmental implications, locusts impact native grazing species that rely upon grasslands and croplands for survival. Swarms consume everything in their path, leaving behind ruined cropland and barren pastures. While they are not known to impact forests or natural tree cover, their voracious consumption of most species of crop creates food scarcity for native fauna and other insects.

CNN : Efforts by Rajasthan against Locusts : State officials are using 100 tractor-mounted sprayers and 20 fire engines across 11 districts to spray water and pesticides. Drones provided by the central government were also used to spray pesticides in two districts in Rajasthan, according to an official of the State Agriculture Department. He added that about 70% of the locusts there had been destroyed. While locust invasions can be devastating for communities because they pose a threat to food security, India has so far appeared to have escaped from the worst as farmers have not yet begun to sow the new season's crops. "The locusts were sitting on barren land. The winter crops have been cut and it hasn't rained yet so the new season's crops have not been sown. Those who planted fodder crops or vegetables could chase the locusts away. This time, there wasn't much loss," said the official. Outlook : Natural control methods adviced by University in Maharashtra : The Vasantrao Naik Agriculture University at Parbhani in Marathwada said threat from swarms of locusts destroying crops and travelling long distances in search of food can be tackled by undertaking certain measures. Destroying their eggs, digging trenches of a specific size and spraying neem oil on standing crops are some of the effective methods to tackle the menace caused by locusts, it said in a statement. The department of agricultural entomology of the university published a set of guidelines on Thursday for farmers in this regard. "Female locusts lay 50 to 100 eggs in moist sandy land. The hatching period of these eggs depends on environment and may stretch from two to four weeks. Larvae cannot fly immediately when they come out," the varsity said. The university suggested destroying those eggs in groups. Farmers can dig trenches in a size of 60 centimeters wide and 75 centimeters deep which can help to catch small locusts from the flock, it said. "If a swarm of locusts is in one square km area, their weight can be up to 3,000 quintals. Their flocks can be neutralised during night time (which is their resting time) with the help of smoke. "But farmers need to be very careful and ensure their crops do not catch fire," the university said. Spraying 2.5 litres of neem oil per hectare has also proved effective in controlling swarms of locusts, it said.

Outlook : Why Helicopters have not been pressed into service against locusts : None of the six states, affected by locust attack, have pressed into service any helicopter for the aerial spray of chemicals despite a large number of crops continuously being destroyed. Parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are in the grip of large swarms of locust attack and alerts have been released for far more severe attacks in days to come. Despite that, locust control authorities are using either sprayer mounted on a vehicle or a drone for an aerial sprinkling. Experts say that both the measures have their own limitations and a helicopter is the most deadly weapon against the locusts. “There is no dearth of helicopters in the country but we don’t have Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) spraying kit which is specially made and fitted on both sides of a helicopter,” KL Gujjar, deputy director, Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage (PPQS), said. “The Ministry of Agriculture has identified five helicopters for this purpose but in the absence of ULV kit, they are of no use as of now,” Gujjar said. He further said, “There is only one UP-based company in the country which manufactures ULV spraying kit for helicopters but due to the lockdown they couldn’t manage spare parts to manufacture it. The company can deliver only in September.” Sources say that the government is trying to import kits for helicopters but it hasn’t materialised yet. So, as of now, sprayer-mounted vehicle and drone are the only options. “Even with full pressure, a sprayer-mounted vehicle cannot take the chemical for more than 15 feet high in the air. The locusts fly higher and rest on top of the tall trees of up to 30 feet of height,” GK Bunker, Assistant Director, Locust Circle Office, Bikaner, said. Bunker added, “We take the help from fire tenders but that’s not feasible every time and at all places.” Field officials also find drone an inefficient tool to fight against large swarms of locust. “A drone can take 5 to 10 litre of chemicals at one go and it can fly for only 15 to 20 minutes. It needs to be recharged after that. Where you need thousands of litres of chemicals to be sprayed to control a huge population, what can a couple of drones do,” Kamal Katiyar, deputy director, agriculture, Jhansi district, said. Katiyar adds that locusts rest at night on trees and bushes and that’s the right time to spray chemicals on them. “We start spraying from 12 in the night and continue until the early hours. But often due to varying physical features of an area, it is difficult to reach places where they rest. So, a helicopter is the most potent weapon against the locusts,” Katiyar said. Reuters : Helicopter Sprayers will start arriving from Britain around mid-June : Despite large-scale incursions by the insects, the Indian government and farm experts do not foresee major crop damage for the moment as the pests have arrived during the gap between the previous harvest and the next planting season. But experts warn that federal and state governments need to kill the pests quickly over the next few weeks to ensure they don't breed again and then devour summer crops. If the insects continue to multiply, India could see extensive losses in June and July when monsoon rains spur sowing of rice, sugarcane, corn, cotton and soybean crops, they said. The government said it was arranging drones to drop pesticides on trees and in inaccessible places to kill the insects. It also plans to use helicopters for aerial spraying. Up to 15 sprayers will start arriving from Britain over the next two weeks and 45 more in one-and-a-half months, it said. Farm experts said that while loud noises can briefly get rid of the pests, they do not amount to a sustainable plan and can make it more difficult for authorities to target and contain the pests. "It's not killing any locusts, it's just shifting the problem to the neighbours," said FAO's Cressman. He said chemical pesticides were the cheapest and most effective solution to tackle such large numbers of the insects. Farmers can also dig trenches around their fields, in an effort to trap and bury newborn hoppers that try to march in and eat their crops, he said. But he said controlling locusts is not a job for individual farmers but for well-trained government agencies equipped with technical know-how and the correct sprayers and safety gear.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Is HIT insecticide a Mother's best friend ?

Simple Solutions to the Cockroach problem

While seeing some youtube videos yesterday I was repeatedly interrupted by HIT ads to kill cockroaches. The ads made the pesticide sound like a mother's best friend - it is not ! Some of the older ads are here and here, but new ads are on similar lines. 

Study after study has found many pesticides used around the home have significant link with a range of diseases inlcuding asthma, parkinsons, and cancer. 

Cockroaches cant live in your kitchen if they have no food or water. Especially at night, you can remove all food sources including trash. We put our trash bin out in the balcony. 

If a cockroach finds its way to your house, I feel it is much better to kill cockroaches say with a chappal, than use insecticides. A special katori drain cover also discourages them from using the drains as a hiding space. 

We store cooking and steel utensils used in our kitchens in open shelves, not walled in by cupboards. As the moisture from the utensils finds its way to cupboard crevices, especially the part where the cupboard door attaches itself. That is where cockroaches lay eggs. 

A study on the ‘German cockroach’ (found in India as well) has found evidence that they had developed a cross-resistance to a range of powerful insecticides and may soon become nearly impossible to kill with chemicals of whatever kind. 

In addition to what I suggested friends wrote in with this advice : Friend 1 : Alternate method to kill cockroach is mix boric acid powder+ aata+ sugar, 3:2:1 ratio. Kneed it well. Stick on walls near bin, undersink, drawers, humid area. Very effective, specially if dont want to use insecticide in kitchen. Must try!!

Boric acid is generally considered of low toxicity in small doses

Friend 2 : 3 to 4 years back, we had a serious cockroach infestation in the kitchen. This was despite a clean kitchen. 

We stationed a vacuum cleaner in the kitchen. Each morning the first task before starting work was to suck all possible roaches roaming around as soon as one saw them once the kitchen light was switched on. One would get a window of some 20 seconds post light being switched on before they ran away and hid. So such as many in 20 seconds was the deal. 

In about 3 to 4 weeks, we 'flattened the curve' of their reproduction rate by increasing their death rate. In another about a month, all roaches were finished. Today we have not a single cockroach, in the house, and it's been free from this menace. This has been the case since 3 years. All cleaned up. No pesticide used.

The ingredients of cockroach bait (which is eaten by them resulting in death) are carcinogenic

What Do the Regulators Say ?

United States Environmental Protection Agency's page entitled 'Pesticides' Impact on Indoor Air Quality' says that preliminary research shows widespread presence of pesticide residues in homes

80 percent of most people's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside homes.

The source of pesticides in homes are products used to kill household pests (insecticides, termiticides and disinfectants) and products used on lawns and gardens that drift or are tracked inside the house.

Exposure to pesticides may result in Irritation to eye, nose and throat; damage to central nervous system and kidney; and, increased risk of cancer.

Chronic exposure to some pesticides can result in damage to the liver, kidneys, and endocrine and nervous systems.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report to the Lok Sabha has acknowledged that excessive use of pesticides has led to high levels of pesticide residues in food and animal feed, accumulation of dangerous persistent organic pollutants, possible increased rates of cancer, increased input costs of agriculture and farmers suffering a wide variety of adverse health effects from occupational exposure to pesticides. 

The Act does not currently enable state governments to ban pesticides long-term. To address the harm done by pesticides on their territories, states should probably be able to permanently ban pesticides that are locally problematic. There is no provision within the Insecticides Act for the recall of existing stocks. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Waste Management in the Time of Lockdown

Making Waste Managment More Resilient to Disruptions

Reduced industrial production, vehicular traffic, and construction sharply reduced pollution sources during lockdown.

But reports say that waste from households sharply increased. 

In the UK, there is a 300% increase in reported illegal dumping of waste in rural communities.
 
In some ways, COVID-19 is having an impact on waste management and negatively affecting the environment.

Nearly half the recycling facilities in the UK have reduced or stopped treatment. Industries that rely heavily on recycled materials are therefore the ones feeling the most pressure in terms of getting hold of resources.

Many countries are now in the process of transitioning to a future management system based on the “circular economy”, where the aim is to reuse and return all waste material to manufacturers as a resource. 

Circularity reduces the need to extract new resources, decreases the environmental impacts associated with mining, lowers costs and helps us to meet climate and environment targets. Current waste management systems will need to evolve to be resilient in the face of shocks like the current pandemic.

Crucial Tool to Safeguard Public Health - Waste management

A World Bank newsletter in Apr 2020 said : Waste management is an invaluable public health service, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic. Those of us privileged enough to have formal or informal waste management services right now are benefiting tremendously from avoiding the health risks of waste piling up.

Even when the Covid-19 crisis ends, waste management will remain a crucial tool to safeguard public health and provide livelihoods.

Contrast between High and Low Income Countries

Unfortunately, over 90% of waste is openly dumped or burned in low-income countries. Poorly managed waste is contaminating our water bodies, clogging drains and causing flooding, transmitting disease, increasing respiratory problems from burning, harming animals that consume waste unknowingly, and affecting economic development, such as through tourism. Greenhouse gasses from waste are also a key contributor to climate change. 

Upper-middle and high-income countries provide nearly universal waste collection, and more than one-third of waste is recovered through recycling and composting. Low-income countries collect about 48% of waste in cities, but only 26% in rural areas - and only 4% is recycled.

Cities Overwhelmed with Accumulated Waste during Lockdown

Delhi With three municipal corporations in Delhi facing cash crunch and a large number of sanitation workers missing from work, city residents staying indoors amid the nationwide lockdown, fear dark days ahead on the cleanliness and sanitation frontMeanwhile, residents of various Delhi areas complained of garbage piles.

Meerut : जनता कर्फ्यू के बाद से मेरठ समेत एनसीआर में हवा की सेहत सुधरने लगी थी। लेकिन अब फिर से यह श्रेणी बहुत खराब की श्रेणी में आ गई है। कई कारणों में से एक है कि लॉकडाउन के दौरान कई जगहोंपर कूड़ा जलाया जा रहा है, जिसमें पॉलीथिन भी है।

Mathura लॉकडाउन से पहले मथुरा में श्रद्धालुओं ने कुछ घाटों पर जाल लगाकर नालों का कूड़ा रोकने की कोशिश की, लेकिन जालों पर इकट्ठा हुआ कूड़ा उठ पाने और पानी बढ़ जाने के कारण कूड़ा फिर यमुना में पहुंच गया। इस गंदगी को रोक पाने में नगर निगम नाकाम साबित हो रहा है।

Gaziabad सामान्य दिनों की तुलना में लॉकडाउन के दौरान गाजियाबादःकी कॉलोनियों में अधिक कूड़ा निकल रहा है. लेकिन निगम कई कॉलोनियों में कूड़ा पूरा नहीं उठा पा रहा। 

Patiala एक हफ्ते पहले का समाचार है कि पटियाला का एयर क्वाॅलिटी इंडेक्स दिल्ली से भी ज्यादा प्रदूषित रिकाॅर्ड किया गया है। पीएम 10 और 2.5 धूल, कंस्ट्रक्शन और कूड़ा पराली जलाने से ज्यादा बढ़ता है।

A heap of garbage at Konka Road in Ranchi
in March 2020. 
Picture by Manob Chowdhary in Telegraph
Ranchi The coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown have hit Ranchi’s civic services“No safai worker has collected garbage from my house for the past one week. The foul smell has become unbearable now", a resident said.

Goa : Garbage has been piling up along the popular coastal belt in Goa

Ahmedabad Trash piled up in Ahmedabad as well.

Cities that made More Effort for Waste Management During Lockdown

Bengaluru : Having anticipated waste woes during the lockdown, residents of several localities in Bengaluru are relieved at garbage being disposed of promptly. “Workers are ensuring waste is collected regularly during the lockdown. The responsibility of proper segregation lies on us,” said member of a resident welfare association.

Kerala : The Government of Kerala directed that no waste removal procedures of local self-government bodies should be interrupted amid lockdown. Panchayat director has instructed all panchayats to monitor activities of Haritha Karma Sena and submit reports.

A consultant with the Haritha Kerala Mission said that decentralising waste management is the best solution for waste disposal. "Segregation of waste is key. Plastic, biodegradable, medical waste and other-non degradable waste have to be treated separately. As per our system, biodegradable waste has to be composted in compounds in the house or in the apartment complexes."
The pandemic has made the importance of decentralised waste management even clearer to Keralites. People spoken to said that they are already seeing a reduction in illegal waste dumping, and littering in public areas in Kerala since the lockdown. People have learnt to compost their waste, rather than throwing it in some other place.
Kochi : Despite all odds, including lack of transportation and lockdown restrictions, sanitation workers in Kochi turn up for work without fail to collect waste, disinfect public spaces and ensure the city is spic and span. "If we stop working, the city will start to stink. We don’t want the people to suffer", said one worker. 
Another worker in Kochi takes care of garbage disposal, unclogs drains, disinfects roads and streets besides trimming the overgrown weeds and the trees. He says even as sanitisation works are being carried out as part of preventive measures against Covid-19, the majority of work is also done keeping in mind the upcoming monsoon season.
Engaged in collecting trash and waste from homes for the past 28 years, a third worker today struggles to make ends meet, as payments have been pending from many homes, citing lockdown as a reason. “Work starts from 3:30am and goes on till all the trash and waste, brought to the collection point, is taken by the corporation. We wait till the truck arrives and loads our sacks,” he said.
“I’m sure that if we stop our work, Kochi will stink. One cannot dump waste on public roads and there is a limit to which the corporation can organise waste-collection," said a fourth worker. 
A fifth worker is the driver of the compactor vehicle which transports garbage. He rides 110 km everyday on his motorcycle, so that Kochi doesn’t reel under garbage issue. “Since we start early in the morning, riding a motorcycle is a risky thing. So, I preferred public transport to reach Kochi. However, due to the new circumstances, that is not possible. Staying away is not an option as a reluctance on my part can affect the waste movement here,” he says. Interestingly, he has been working continuously for the last 30 days. “Some people can’t make it to work. So, I do their job too,” he adds. 
Trichy : A study on sanitation workers in Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli in April 2020, found that a large majority said that society will view sanitation workers with dignity after lockdown. “People have started to respect us solely for the work we do, the same work for which we were looked down for years,” said a sanitation worker from Tiruchirapalli.
Chandigarh : Even when Chandigarh is on lockdown and residents are confined to the walls of their houses because of the fear of coronavirus spread, the 2,500-strong brigade of door-to-door garbage collectors is doing their job relentlessly, without giving it a day’s skip. 
“It is the time to show the society that we, too, care for them. If we don’t pick the garbage during the curfew period, the piled up garbage will start spreading infections,” says the head of the door-to-door garbage collectors’ society.
Bhiwadi has a Long way to go to Improve Waste Managment
भिवाड़ी में गीला और सूखा कचरा को अलग-अलग करने से बच रही नगर परिषद पर एनजीटी ने कुछ माह पूर्व सख्ती दिखाते हुए विशेषकर डोर टू डोर कचरे का उठान और निस्तारण के पूर्ण इंतजामों की पुष्टि करने व ग्रीन वेस्ट से कंपोस्ट खाद बनाने के मिशन को सुनिश्चित करने के निर्देश दिए थे।

शहर से प्रतिदिन 35 से 40 टन कूड़ा निकलता है। जिसमें लगभग 15 से 20 टन केवल ग्रीन वेस्ट ही है। इसमें से केवल 5 टन गीला कचरा ही उपयोग में लाया जा रहा है। बाकी कूड़ा सूखे कचरे के साथ मिलकर प्रदूषण का बड़ा कारक बन रहा है।

Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) chairman Bhure Lal said that during his visit to Bhiwadi in Rajasthan on October 19, 2019, he found that officials had taken inadequate measures to curb burning of garbage"A massive fire was observed at the dump yard in the RIICO industrial area. Locals complained that garbage is set on fire on a daily basis," he said.

Along the Sohna road, near Bhiwadi Management Association, heaps of plastic, synthetic waste and foam generated by industrial units were lying in the open and several sites were filled with ashes.

The EPCA said several fires have been started in the industrial areas of Khushkhera, Bhiwadi and Alwar and apprehended that with the onset of winter, more and more heaps of these industrial waste were likely to be burnt.


An online survey web page updated in Feb, 2020, had this to say about perceptions about Bhiwadi :


However, in one residential society - Utsav in Ashiana Village, composting of wet kitchen wastes from three blocks has continued without disruption, for 4.5 months in colony level drums. 

Additionally, some twenty households in this society continue to process their own kitchen wet wastes in small home composting units. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rabies in India - a Shocking Introduction

Introduction
  • Rabies negatively affects the poor living in remote rural areas and slum-dwellers of developing countries.
  • Rabies is the deadliest virus-caused disease, where nearly 100 % of the patients die after developing symptoms - but it isnt even notifiable in India. 
  • An estimated 17.4 million animal bites occur in India annually.
  • By 2010 India had vaccinated just 15% of its dogs
  • mere 0.33 % of the dog population of India is sterilized every year. An unsterilized female dog can result in 67,000 pups in seven years. 
  • In fact, India has not implemented any of the rabies-prevention strategies successfully, be it vaccination, sterilisation of dogs, or providing free medicines to all rabies victims.
  • If the level of vaccination in the dog population can be kept at 70 percent over a period of seven years, the variant of the rabies virus that thrives in dog populations will disappear.
The 2020 New Year did not start on a good note for young Praveen and his family at Ballari : The twenty-six-year-old’s eyes are feverish and wild as he hyperventilates on a hospital bed. As his words tumble out in a breathless babble, he explains to a doctor that months earlier, a three-month-old puppy had bitten his leg. Showing the scars, the youth says he was given injections at that time by a local doctor. 
He tries hard to drink water, but screams at the very sight of it. Tormented by thirst, he brings it to his lips again and again, only to convulse and gag at the last moment. Lying alone in a dark room of Isolation Hospital in Bengaluru, Praveen pleads for the lights to be switched off, as they hurt his eyes. It’s a horrible sight for his family, as they watch him suffer. The hospital staff knows there is nothing they can do now. A few hours later, Praveen passes away.
Rabies is a neglected disease, which is insufficiently addressed by the national and international community. Rabies negatively affects the poor living in remote rural areas and slum-dwellers of developing countries. Rabies is a virus that is present in the saliva of rabid animal. Human rabies is caused most often by bites or licks over broken skin by rabid dogs.

India has more than 30 million stray dogs (this figure mentioned in this article also). B
y 2010 India had vaccinated just 15% of its dogs. The Animal Welfare Board of India was quoted in 2016 as stating that 'Over one lakh stray dogs are sterilized and vaccinated against rabies every year.' - that would be a mere 0.33 % of the dog population of India. 

For example, stray dog population has gone up by 65% within seven years in Chandigarh. This was revealed in the 2019 animal census conducted by the UT animal husbandry and fisheries department. 

An article states : 'If a female dog is sterilized, effectively it prevents 67,000 births over seven years.' But since the effort at sterilization is so small, we are adding these dog numbers endlessly to india. 

A study showed that dog sterilizations in Ahmedabad reduced bites by only 8.5 %. 

Once given a shot, a dog should be safe from catching or spreading Rabies for at least a yearThe consensus among rabies experts is that if the level of vaccination in the dog population can be kept at 70 percent over a period of seven years, the variant of the rabies virus that thrives in dog populations will disappear.

In fact, India has not implemented any of the rabies-prevention strategies successfully, be it vaccination, sterilisation of dogs, or providing free medicines to all rabies victims.

An estimated 17.4 million animal bites occur annually (the figure in 2012 was 15 million annual bites a year), and about 5 million post-exposure rabies prophylaxis (PEP) are provided. 

On an average, nearly 6,000 cases of dog bites are being reported in Ahmedabad every month. This means roughly 200 people are bitten by dogs every day in the city.

Statistics from Pune Municipal Corporation reveal that, “at least 28 citizens were bitten every day by stray dogs making for an average of 10,000 dog bite cases in 2017. 

Between January and March 2015, Chandigarh registered 1,200 cases of dog bite. 

Nearly 50 per cent of those bitten by a dog in India do not receive rabies vaccine. There are many primary healthcare centres in Karnataka where the staff lacks knowledge on how to administer the vaccine, even if it is available, say doctors. 

Cases are invariably fatal once symptoms manifest. More than 20,000 people die of rabies every year in India, three-quarters of them in rural areasIncidence of rabies in India has been constant for the last few years, without any declining trend.

Every animal bite is potentially suspected as rabid exposure as rabies is endemic in India. The exposed individuals should seek early health care and prophylaxis should be started immediately at the healthcare facility as it is lifesaving. Unfortunately, availability, accessibility, and usage of PEP are limited in India. 

A study in 2019 showed that in over half of the anti-rabies clinics surveyed in Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Manipur, even facilities for washing wounds and antiseptics -- a critical first step in treating animal bites -- were inadequate. Over half the clinics did not have Immunoglobulin which could be critical in preventing rabies if there was blood from the bite wounds, especially on the neck, face or head. 

Goa's example 

Mission Rabies there spends about $300,000 a year and has vaccinated 100,000 dogs a year since 2017, about 50,000 a year before that. Deaths of people from rabies in Goa fell to zero last year from 15 in 2014, when the campaign started. There are none so far in 2019.

At the heart of the plan is a smartphone app that allows the vaccination teams to track their GPS-monitored progress through a neighborhood on a map as they move from street to street. 

Mission Rabies estimates the vaccination cost per dog, including salaries and other costs, at $2.50, far lower than the cost of treating humans, which involves not only a more expensive vaccine, but also potential hospital stays. By that accounting, every dog in India could theoretically be vaccinated for under $90 million. India now spends $490 million a year on post-bite treatment.

Applying the Goa project’s methods on a larger scale would require at least one technical piece that is missing — an oral vaccine. Western Europe eradicated rabies in foxes by dropping baits with oral vaccines, beginning in 1990 when rabies was widespread and lasting more than 20 years.

Rabies Vaccination vs. Sterilization of Dogs

Further on the theme of a required focus on vaccinating dogs against Rabies, there is no legal mandate in India for anti-rabies vaccinations, which would shield street dogs from contracting rabies. Instead, ‘animal birth control’ — the mass sterilization of street dogs to ensure their long-term population decline — is the status quo solution. However, sterilized dogs can still bite people, passing on the virus to humans and other animals. The Union health ministry continues to subsidize extremely expensive post-bite treatment for patients. These expenses should instead be directed toward animal vaccination, which has proved to be around 100 times cheaper and more effective in Asia.

Sterlization programmes for street dogs began in India around 2001, yet still cannot be called a success. In Coimbatore, for instance, around 43 % of the street dogs were sterilized till 2017. 

Many citizens are troubled by biting dogs and have approached courts in all parts of the country, filed petitions with corporations / other authorities, and given press interviews - with no impact on the ground, it seems. See here too. 

In fact, hearing of such petitions came to a stand still because of a an interim order dated November 18, 2015 passed by the Supreme Court of India in the case related to Animal Welfare Board of India Vs. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles and others. The order requested all high courts not to pass any order relating to 1960 Act and 2001 Rules, pertaining to the stray dogs.

Yogesh Bhardwaj, veterinarian at the Nainital zoo, said, “Dogs being territorial animals will attack any outsider entering their areas, including pets and its owners. Some dogs are also agitated as speeding vehicles pass by and tend to attack drivers. During mating season, high levels of testosterone in males also incite them to attack humans.”

Delhi's first animal welfare policy does not refer to mass anti-rabies vaccination of street dogs. 

The People for Elimination of Stray Troubles blogspot makes an interesting point : Ensure that the citizens’ rights are upheld by clearing the streets of stray animals. Basically, this includes public areas free of stray animals as provided for by the municipal and panchayat acts - a demand that the existing law be implemented and enforced.

Even otherwise, there are many who disagree with India's failed policy on street dogs - A Jul 2019 article says : It is wholly and completely the Animal Welfare Board of India’s (AWBI) cruel and illegal ABC (Animal Birth Control ) policy because of which homeless dogs exist in such numbers today.

The article goes on to say that WHO guidelines state that 'Control of reproduction of feral dogs is rarely worthwhile. If feral dogs are captured and unclaimed they should be humanely killed.'

The WHO and animal welfare organisations around the world promote and encourage free/low-cost neutering for PET dogs. A municipality in Taiwan offers $5 to owners to get their dog sterilised. That is how much cheaper and more practical it is for the government and animal organisations to neuter and vaccinate pets and prevent surplus animals from ending up on the streets in the first place.

The article adds that : 'The clueless AWBI’s ABC policy is the complete opposite of what needs to be done — ignore pets and randomly sterilise and vaccinate some homeless dogs. In fact, this policy has failed so spectacularly, that the AWBI has now changed its own goal post — invented ‘street/Indian/community’ dogs that are supposedly meant to live on the streets anyway !

Another article asks : Who are the beneficiaries of keeping the dogs on the streets?

The threat from feral dogs is not restricted to human life. Feral dogs are posing a serious threat to Indian wildlife. Conservation India lists several instances of dogs attacking, hunting, and chasing away wildlife, including several endangered species, in different parts of India.


In the cities, municipal authorities are blamed for the growing numbers and growls on the streets. While the authorities want to remove dogs from the streets, people representing animal welfare organisations insist on carrying on an “unworkable programme” to reduce the conflict between man and mongrel. Victims are blamed for the attacks.

The ABC programme legalises straying, puts dogs in direct conflict with people, and is a perversion of public policy.

The AWBI, the functioning of Animal Welfare Organizations (AWOs), and the implementation and efficacy of the ABC programme have been studied and reviewed by the Ministry of Environment & Forests multiple times, most notably in 1999, 2008, and 2015. It is not for no reason that the reviews and audits have never been made public.

The reviews expose corrupt practices by the AWBI, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds by AWOs in the name of “animal welfare”, and an appalling lack of even rudimentary knowledge of dog control and welfare on the part of the AWBI and NGOs.


The AWBI and AWOs carrying out the ABC programme must be disbanded and held culpable for criminal misconduct for this blatant and deliberate deception of the public and courts, deaths of hundreds of citizens, and cruelty to animals.


There is no rabies component in India’s only official rabies control programme. Prevention of human rabies deaths by post-bite vaccination of every person that is bitten, is not rabies control. Control and prevention of rabies requires annual vaccination of at least 80 per cent of the total dog population to prevent the spread of the disease from dogs to dogs and dogs to humans. The ABC programme, however, mandates that ownerless dogs be left back on the streets under no supervision – how such dogs are to be identified and accurately re-immunised annually has neither been defined nor ever been attempted by the AWBI. Neither the AWBI nor the ABC programme has ever mentioned any methodology for rabies control.

Health is a state subject and it is the statutory, civic duty of local authorities as defined by Municipal Acts across the country to keep the streets free of straying animals, check the spread of diseases, and prevent public nuisance. The ABC programme transfers this responsibility of the government to voluntary organisations with no liability.

State governments and the Centre continue to spend crores of rupees on post-bite treatment/vaccination, rabies deaths, man hours lost, and accidents. Local authorities spend taxpayer money on maintaining dog vans and pounds and manpower. Citizens, especially the poor, continue to face dog attacks in public places, with children being attacked regularly. Livestock and wildlife are now increasingly under attack from hungry and homeless dogs, which also spread diseases to wild populations. Unwanted, homeless dogs suffer and die due to accidents, diseases, and starvation. They are now even subject to retaliatory attacks from people, who have no other recourse but to take matters into their own hands. The only beneficiaries of the ABC programme are the AWOs, which get taxpayer money to build private hospitals and boarding for pets and leave homeless animals on the streets.


The current policy is illegal and unconstitutional as it goes against its own parent Act – the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Article 21 – Right to Life, Municipal State Laws, the Police Act, and Public Nuisance Laws. While the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, talks about culling street dogs, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules of 2001 allows stray dog population. 

“PCA clearly says stray dogs should be ‘destroyed’. But AWBI through its ABC rules insists that they live on the streets. In 2015, AWBI issued a circular that blames the victim for a dog attack.

Developed nations do not allow dogs on the street. Those which are found are put up for adoption. When no one adopts them, they are euthanised. 


Studies on Rabies in Punjab

A study in Punjab India, showed that the proportion of confirmed rabid dog cases was consistent throughout the study period (2004-2014).

It is likely that rabies is maintained in dogs in an urban transmission cycle. Reports of dog- bites demonstrated increased incidence in humans over the years. Another study in 2016-'17 showed that the annual incidence of rabies in dogs in Punjab would be in the region of 190 cases. The incidence in pet dogs would be double that of stray d
ogs. But Stray dogs are responsible for most of the human bite cases in India (60 %).


Of rabid animals in which the biting history was known, there was no significant difference between the proportion of dogs that had a history of biting behaviour and those that had not. 

It is accepted that vaccination of dogs for canine rabies needs to consistently achieve high coverage to reduce incidence and potentially eliminate rabies in dogs. However, this is difficult to achieve even in well- resourced environments.


Some municipalities in Punjab try to control stray dog populations through Animal Birth Control- Anti- Rabies programmes but are unsuccessful due to insufficient resources. 


There are increased cases of rabies in dogs in Punjab in March and August. It is not known if this is due to an increased seasonal breeding. Regardless of the reason —either increased exposure of the general public to dogs, or increased incidence in dogs—rabies elimination campaigns in the Punjab can gain more efficient resource allocation by targeting dog vaccination prior to March and August and rabies- awareness messaging during March and
August.


Surveillance for rabies in animals in Punjab relies solely on passive data collection. There is no coordinated approach to surveillance such as a state sponsored- testing sc
heme.


Factors such as poor dog population management and low standards of dog care (including infrequent veterinary consultation) are considered responsible for high endemicity of canine rabies in India. 


Some of the rabies-infected domestic and pet animals in the study (16%) had received rabies vaccination previously, but the recommended annual vaccination schedules were not subsequently followed. In 56% of the rabies cases, the animal owner noticed a bite wound on the animal’s body but only 31 % of the owners requested veterinary treatment or vaccination of the animal. All of these animals died before completing the course of post-exposure rabies prophylaxis vaccination.


Of the 16 rabid dogs reported in 2016-'17 in 4 sub-districts of Punjab, all had developed rabies after being bitten by other rabid dogs. A total of 20 humans were exposed to rabid cases sufficiently for potential rabies virus transmission. All of them received post-exposure prophylaxis, and were alive at the time of completion of the study.


National Centre for Disease Control, 2015
But in an earlier study decades ago, 177 cases of clinically diagnosed rabies were reported from hospitals in Amritsar city over 6.5 years. 87 % of the patients had been bitten without any provocation.

All the patients died with varied symptomatology: hydrophobia, aerophobia and restlessness was observed in 100% of cases. Almost all the patients applied red chillies; only 18% had antiseptic dressing. 87 % of the deceased had not taken anti-rabid vaccine treatment.


A total of 18 cases, who also died, were given post-exposure treatment with anti-rabic vaccine but only 12 received 11 or more injections. They started the treatment from 1-35 days after exposure. 


Some pointers by the National Centre for Disease Control

A history of rabies vaccination in an animal is not always a guarantee that the biting animal is not rabid. Animal vaccine failures may occur because of improper administration or poor quality of the vaccine, poor health status of the animal, and the fact that one vaccine dose does not always provide long-lasting protection against rabies infection in dogs/cats. Hence, appropriate documentation of vaccination status of dog/cat and proper history should be elicited before deciding to defer post-exposure prophylaxis after bite by vaccinated dog/cat. 


A provoked dog bite should also be managed as an exposure and PEP started immediately. A provoked bite does not mean that the biting animal is not rabid. Washing of wound(s) should be carried out as soon as possible with soap and water (
for a minimum of 15 min). Since the rabies virus can persist and even multiply at the site of bite for a long time, wound(s) must be washed even if the patient reports late.

After thorough washing and drying the wound(s), any one of the available chemical viricidal agents should be applied, such as povidone iodine, alcohol, etc. 


In category III exposures (which result in drawing blood through the skin) rabies immunoglobulin should be infiltrated in the depth and around the wound(s) to neutralize the locally present virus. Suturing of wound(s) should be avoided as far as possible.


Rabies Immunoglobulin should never be administered in the same syringe or at the same anatomical site as vaccine.


A Times of India article mentions that the Rabies Vaccine, administered after a dog bite to prevent infection, works only 14-15 days later. Immunoglobulin, meanwhile, is administered in cases where the victim has grievous injuries accompanied by bleeding.

Availability of Rabies Biologicals

Most of the available rabies vaccines are indigenously produced in the countryThe rabies vaccines are procured by the state governments - the scenario of their availability varies from 24 × 7 availability in Gujarat and Kerala, to occasional supplies in Manipur and Bihar. In fact, there is a 20-80 per cent shortage in anti-rabies vaccines across all States, barring Kerala and Gujarat. However, this is contradicted in an article in 2019, that stated that rabies vaccines had been in short supply in Ahmedabad for nine months.

There was no immunoglobulin for almost a month in Panaji in March 2015

Manufacturers remained cold to three tenders floated by Karnataka in 2019 and the State Government had to seek help from neighbouring States. Kerala government responded by providing 10,000 shots of anti-rabies injection and 2,000 vials of immunoglobulin injection.

Recent reports suggest that human rabies vaccine shortage is a common problem also in Punjab (it is a problem even in Delhi Government hospitals, as this report of 2019 shows). 

Rabies biologicals, i.e., vaccines and immunoglobulins are life saving for humans in all rabid animal exposures. These biologicals should be continuously available throughout the year, in the entire country to prevent human rabies.


In Sep 2019, manufacturers and marketers informed that lack of firm orders by State governments and late payments led to the shortage. The Health Ministry advised State governments to issue quantity based tenders and place long-term firm orders with specific quantity and supply schedule.

A welcome news late in 2019 was that a Gujarat-based plant of Rabies vaccines, shut for a few years, was re-starting production. It had commanded the lion's share of the vaccines market previously. 

Shortages were also caused from Aug 2018 onwards when a major rabies vaccine maker based in China was caught out for fraudulent practices in their manufacture. He had to withdraw vaccines from the market (including those exported to India) and subsequently shut down. 

Looking at reports further back, even in 2008, it was said thathe post treatment immunoglobulin was almost impossible to obtain in most of India.

National Data on Rabies

In India, the deadliest virus-caused disease - Rabies, where nearly 100 % of the patients die after developing symptoms - isnt even notifiable

The compilation of national data on rabies cases is so poor as to be laughable. 
According to the National Health Profile 2017 of the health ministry, there were 86 rabies cases in the country and no survivors, so the fatality rate was 100 per cent. 

In a single Infectious Disease Hospital in Delhi however, in January 2017, of the nine patients admitted, seven were categorised under 'Left Against Medical Advice (LAMA)' and the other two were reported dead. The situation was identical every month. This implies that the LAMA patients too would have died for sure, but were not categorised as such.

So the Rabies patients in just one hospital were 25 % more than the claimed national total !

Just one state - Karnataka, saw 789 cases of rabies between 2016 and 2018.

The experience of Himachal Pradesh


Since 2008, Himachal Pradesh has used a "pooling strategy" to help patients save money by pooling vials of antirabies vaccine at a centralized hospital and sharing them using the intradermal technique. 

In 2014, there was an acute shortage of rabies immunoglobulins (RIG) and two patients died after four injections of rabies vaccine were administered without RIG, which was not commercially available. 


After an extensive literature review and technical and ethical committee clearances, in June 2014 Himachal started to infiltrate equine RIG (eRIG) into wound/s only without the recommended systemic intramuscular injection.


During the four-year period June 2014 to June 2018, 7506 of 10,830 patients exposed to suspected rabid animals were injected with eRIG in and around the wounds in a single clinic at DDU Hospital Shimla without any adverse outcomes. 


The average volume of eRIG used per patient was 0.75 mL and cost US$ 0.75. Of the 80% of patients who were followed up, all were healthy at the end of a year, including 26 patients bitten by laboratory-confirmed rabid dogs. The reaction rate after PEP administration also declined significantly. 


Since February 2018, Himachal has started following the new WHO recommendations on PEP regimens of three intradermal antirabies vaccines instead of four, thereby saving hundreds of vaccine vials that became useful during shortages of rabies vaccine in India. To date, more than 700 vaccine vials have been saved in a single clinic at DDU hospital during the past 6 months alone. 


Currently, 90 "pooling centers" have been established for sharing of vaccine and eRIG vials in Himachal State, generating huge savings that have enabled the government to provide PEP free of charge to all.