The Highway And The Dead Street Dogs

by | Oct 30, 2018

It’s been almost seven weeks since I arrived in Odisha. Since then, the first place where I stayed temporarily, the house where I currently live, everywhere I go for work every day; all this lies in between two districts of the state – Cuttack and Kendrapada. Among all the things I have observed, there is this one lifeline, the Cuttack – Chandbali state highway, for the people living in the villages around these two places. The construction work to this highway started in 2013 and it has remained one of the major modes of connectivity and commute for people and goods across the districts it connects.

The Cuttack-Chandbali highway remains busy. My current home overlooks it, and from my balcony, one can observe the number of heavy-duty vehicles as well as the cars and bikes passing by. But unlike most highways, this one doesn’t have street lights for a long stretch, most of which falls in my route, i.e. from Cuttack to Kendrapada. There are several blocks and villages on the highway which provide some light on the road, but apart from that, it is mostly dark.

Year after year, there have been several reported incidents of trucks running over cars, or smaller vehicles colliding with each other. Most of these accidents happen during nights, in the absence of streetlights. The several kilometers of road stretch between villages are the zones more prone to accidents. The related news reach local newspapers and often becomes a hot topic of discussion among the groups of villagers, but what does not get enough attention is the number of dead animals, specially street dogs.

Since the day I have shifted to this place closer to highway and have been commuting daily for work through the highway, I have seen a fairly huge amount of dead animals on it. Cows and goats that either wander off from their owners or do not have owners, fall victim to oncoming trucks at night. Mostly, it is the street dogs who become the victim because they are much higher in number. Their dead bodies just lie there after the accident as nobody is present to move their mutilated bodies at night. They decompose right in the middle of the highway.

The issue which might seem small here, is not so. The dependency of people on roads in Odisha. With no rail route in this area, most of the business is carried out through these roads, which involves heavy-duty vehicles. Additionally, this route has no government buses running through, so all the buses are private ones that are mostly overloaded. There’s no one to regulate them and they have unskilled drivers which also leads to a number of accidents. This is the story of just one highway, in a state with a total length of more than 2 lakh kilometer of roads (as of 2003), which makes the situation more tricky when you compare it with the railway route of the whole eastern zone which just covers 5000 km. The dependency on roads is evident.

The population of stray dogs in Cuttack area alone is more than 48,000, as per 2011 census. The same population in Kendrapada exceeds 43,000. Now, in 2018, it would have gone up to lakhs, majority of which can be found in rural areas. There are no significant measures taken by government for any kind of population control of dogs in these areas. The scope of reduction in dog deaths on the highway looks nil in the recent future.

However, one positive step has been taken in this regard – The Dog Ambulance, which was started for stray dogs in Bhubaneshwar. Even though this initiative is just for the city which accounts not even for 1/6th of the total stray dogs’ population, it gives a glimmer of hope that this might get extended to rural areas one day.

One of the easiest and obvious solution to the problem is streetlights. They are required for roads with such heavy traffic. It might not change the mentality of people towards dogs but it may stop at least one in ten vehicles when an animal comes in front of it. The other solution is pretty expensive for the already debt ridden state government, but setting up dog shelters or at least getting vasectomy done for them might be a big step once the streetlights are in place.

The sight of a dead dog on a highway is sickening as well as gruesome. With no one clearing up their carcasses, their bodies are run over and over by the vehicles. In my journey of about 25 km, from my home near Salipur to Cuttack, I usually see 3-4 dead dogs on the street. The situation is worse during mornings when these corpses are fresh. Sometimes, they are alive but heavily injured, unable to move and die in the heavy traffic because of no help available.

How many more are going to share the same fate before this becomes an issue serious enough for the authorities to get involved?

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1 Comment

  1. Swati Saxena

    It was quite ironical to read this after that mishap with a cow on the same highway. Good read though! 😉


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