Stray animals continue to squat and walk merrily on the roads, posing a risk to motorists and two-wheeler riders. Stray cattle were the cause of at least 30 accidents across the state between 2014 and 2017. At least seven people died in road accidents between 2013 and 2016 in such accidents. Scores of casualties caused by stray cattle go unreported with motorists and two-wheeler riders preferring to ignore the damages to their vehicles. Though the state government came up with the Goa Stray Cattle Management Scheme, 2013 (modified) it has proved ineffective in tackling the problem. There is not much awareness about the scheme among the village panchayats. Hardly any panchayat has taken serious steps to implement the scheme. With no takers the very purpose of the scheme has been defeated. The state government must take immediate steps to implement the scheme and rid the roads of the menace and save bovines as well as people from dying in accidents.
Stray cattle can be seen moving around day in and day out in almost all parts of the state, with no one herding them. Most of them use the state roads in the night to squat for resting and feed on the waste disposed along the roads and the litter bins. It is under such circumstances that accidents take place, some of which are fatal with either motorcycle riders or drivers of vehicles or cattle dying. The government of Goa took note of the cattle menace, including how they cause traffic obstruction, deaths due to accidents on roads, agricultural damage and invasion of the touristic places, but it has done little to make the local bodies implement the scheme and ensure that the state roads are free and safe from the menace. There are various reasons for rural and urban bodies for not implementing the scheme, the major one being locating a cattle pound in their jurisdiction. Appointment of pound keepers is another issue faced by them together with the stray cattle taking to roads by night, during which catching them and taking them to pounds is a major challenge. The owners of the cattle do not heed requests of local bodies to take care of the animals and let them loose.
It is a pity that even though the stray cattle and dog menace is not new to the state but little appears to have been done to save the animals as well as people from accidents, being maimed for life or even deaths. Every time a death is reported the government springs into action and announces that the law would be implemented for the safety of humans as well as animals but the promise is forgotten sooner than later, to be recalled when another accident takes place. Since the local bodies have been finding it difficult to find suitable locations to house the pounds the government should have worked towards not only finding suitable sites to locate the cattle pound but also set up a mechanism to implement the scheme by itself, rather than seeking the help of the local bodies. Different sites should have been identified by now to serve as cattle pounds and adequate infrastructure should have been erected thereon to house the impounded cattle. If the owners of the impounded cattle do not turn up to claim them the government should auction them off as rearing them indefinitely would not be practical but also costly. The government should also develop a mechanism to identify the owners of the stray cattle and impose fines on them for endangering the life of the cattle as well as general public, which could go a long way in disciplining errant owners.
Since Goa is a tourist destination, the presence of stray animals on the roads, beaches and all over presents an ugly picture of the state. The presence of stray animals mars the image of the state as a top-notch tourist destination, brings it disrepute and could have adverse impact on tourism. The stray cattle not only create nuisance on the tourist places by scavenging but also at times fight, thereby frightening the tourists. With local bodies having failed to lap up the scheme and rid the state roads and other places of the stray animals, the government should take the responsibility to do so or outsource it to a non-government organisation at the earliest. It would be in the interest of the state, the animals and people that a proper mechanism is put in place to by the authorities to safeguard the interests of the state, its economy and safety of humans as well as animals.