Thiruvananthapuram, July 27 (IANS) Kerala Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar on Monday rubbished allegations by animal activists that the state government had decided to cull stray dogs.
“Their subsequent widespread ‘Worldwide Boycott Kerala Movement 2015’ on the social medium is based on misinformation,” the minister said in a strong rebuttal of the allegation.
During the last couple of weeks, the Kerala government and its tourism sector have faced a backlash through social networking mediums over the stray dog issue in the state, with a group of animal activists and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) launching an online campaign to boycott Kerala.
The AWBI, protesting the alleged government decision taken at an all-party meet to cull aggressive stray dogs, subsequently called for the boycott of Kerala.
The campaign, also conducted in metros like Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru, called on people to not select Kerala as their tourist destination till the government rescinded its decision to kill stray dogs.
“The allegations are baseless. The government has decided to kill only rabid and dangerous stray dogs because of the danger they’ve posed to people, particularly to children, over the past few months,” said Anilkumar.
“There is no decision to kill all dogs, as mentioned in the online petition,” he added.
A meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, had only decided to implement an Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme at veterinary hospitals, giving the nod to commence sterilisation at 50 veterinary hospitals with primary facilities across the state, and to implement anti-rabies immunisation in all veterinary hospitals.
Initially, ABC will be implemented in 50 centres across 14 districts and gradually in 500 centres.
“I do not believe that the online campaign will affect Kerala’s tourism. The state registers a steady growth in the domestic and international tourist arrivals annually,” said Kerala Tourism secretary G. Kamala Vardhana Rao.
He also pointed out that the state’s sensitive treatment of rabid and stray dogs would make Kerala a more tourism-friendly and safer place.