Dehradun: A Dehradun-based animal welfare group has raised concerns over the alleged mistreatment of mules and equines during the Dham yatra chariot, particularly at Kedarnath and Badrinath. Animal lovers claimed the mules were “cruelly treated and exploited” when carrying goods and pilgrims.
“Rudraprayag officials and vets said there were 8,500 mules and horses in service, but there is only a record of 2,300 registered. This is a serious discrepancy,” Nalini said on Friday. Taneja, president of the Navotthan society.
She further said that officials had claimed that only six animals had died since the yatra began on May 5, but that “the real number is over 60”.
TOI had recently reported that in 20 days of Kedarnath yatra, nearly 60 mules, used to transport pilgrims and supplies to the shrine, succumbed to “exertion” and poor nutrition.
“The most common causes of death are acute abdominal problems, accidental injuries and age-related factors. These animals, while being overworked, drink cold water from glacier streams. This can easily cause failure. There should be a proper mechanism in place to feed these animals while there should be lukewarm water for them every 4 km as they travel such long distances in harsh environmental conditions,” Taneja added.
Animal lovers also felt that to prevent equines from being overworked, a time limit should be set on what they could do in a day and every 10-15 days a proper health check should be carried out. .
Registration of all such mules should be made compulsory, the social group said.
TOI had also reported that the carcasses of the dead mules were thrown into the Mandakini River. There is no provision for the cremation of these animals and there is a fear of spreading disease if hygienic conditions are not observed, they added.