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Kudumbashree’s ABC units find going tough

Court halts transfer of funds as it lacks AWBI registration

The Shraddha Kudumbashree unit in Ernakulam has been carrying out the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme since 2018, providing livelihood to 15 people.

The unit had bought a multispecialty mobile unit in 2019 investing nearly ₹1 crore, the first of its kind facility in the State according to its members. But today Shraddha is one of the 30 units across Kerala whose members have been hit by a court order suspending the transfer of funds to Kudumbashree since it is not registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

The Animal Husbandry Department had trained hundreds of women for the programme and the units have so far sterilised around 80,000 strays across the State. The court order came at a time when Kudumbashree was providing ABC services to 279 local bodies in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, and Wayanad districts.

“All our workers are now jobless and they don’t have other options due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have no means to repay the loan or meet the other expenses, including rent. I am a veterinary nurse and I have also done a course in ABC management from Ootty. All our handlers are trained and we follow all the norms. Despite all this, animal welfare groups approached the court saying we are not qualified enough. We suspect some conspiracy in the move,” says Priya Prakashan of Shraddha.

While the local bodies seem happy about the work and find it more efficient compared to other NGOs, animal welfare organisations feel Kudumbashree is unfit to implement the programme. “Kudumbashree units engaged in ABC are not properly trained and they handle dogs without any love or compassion. They are focussing on quantity, not quality and there is no effort to sensitise people on what is being done,” says Sally Varma, Honorary Animal Welfare Officer, AWBI.

She adds that it will be better if the local bodies engage experienced NGOs who are equipped to do the work.

According to Kudumbashree officials, all units have trained dog handlers and empanelled doctors with Veterinary Council of India registration. “All our units have been working competently and our failure percentage is negligible. We are continuing the work in local bodies that had already transferred the fund. We have initiated all procedures to get recognition of the Animal Welfare Board of India,” says A. Sanjeev Kumar, Programme Officer (Animal Husbandry), Kudumbashree State Mission.

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