COVID-19: Horses used for joyrides left in Maidan to survive on their own

Kolkata, Apr 5 () A tour of the city is never complete without a visit to the iconic Victoria Memorial and this includes a ride around the majestic structure in Maidan area on a gleaming horse carriage.

But the area is deserted now due to the lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, except for many horses, turned pale due to lack of care, loitering around.

More than 100 horses, which in normal circumstances draw beautifully bedecked carriages for tourists and city-dwellers on a day out, or carry children on their backs during joyrides around the famous Victoria Memorial here, are now an abandoned lot, said Ajay Daga, a senior member of People For Animals (PFA).

The NGO has come forward to feed these animals till the situation normalises, Daga said on Sunday.Advertisement

"I got a phone call from Mrs Maneka Gandhi on Friday enquiring about the condition of the horses," Daga said.

The former Union minister, known to be an avid animal lover, has assured assistance to PFA in taking care of these animals whenever required, he said.

"At present, PFA is feeding horses with the help of public donations," Daga told .
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While some of the owners of the horses have gone back to their native states in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar by abandoning the animals since the lockdown began, some have stayed back, of whom, only a few are taking care of their horses.

"Even when the lockdown is lifted, who will be there to ride our carriages since there will be no tourist for sometime thereafter," Salim, one of the owners said.Daga said the PFA has funds to feed horses only for the next seven days.Advertisement

The cost of feeding the horses is around Rs 15,000 per day.

"We have decided to feed the stray horses till the situation normalises after the lockdown is lifted," he said.

Daga said that city-headquartered Emami Group's joint-chairman, R S Goenka, who is a trustee of the PFA, chips in whenever there is any requirement.Advertisement

Local councillor Susmita Bhattacharya said the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is filling the troughs, near the Victoria Memorial, built to store drinking water for the animals.

"As a local councillor, I got information that more than 100 horses have been abandoned by their owners and were loitering in the maidan area, following which I had contacted the NGO for feeding the animals," she said.

She said that a sack of fodder, which normally costs Rs 800 to Rs 850, is now costing Rs 1,150.Advertisement

"I got a call from a senior official at the West Bengal State Secretariat 'Nabanna' inquiring about the condition of the horses and he has assured that the government will do the needful to ensure that the animals are taken care of," Bhattacharya said. AMR SBN RAXRAX
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