The central government’s Swachhta Hi Seva has left animal lovers and religious communities in a flap. The cleanliness campaign, which was launched across the country on Saturday and will continue till Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, has led to a ban on feeding pigeons at Gateway of India’s “iconic” kabutarkhana.

To ensure that Gateway’s promenade was clean for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interactive televised address on Saturday morning —attended by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and business tycoon Ratan Tata — the BMC banned feeding of pigeons four days earlier, dismantled the makeshift kabutarkhana, a large barricaded enclosure, and took away water troughs.

Civic marshals were then deployed to stop people from feeding the birds.

Decades-long tradition

The move has rankled local Jain organisations, which claimed that they have been feeding pigeons at the spot for decades. The groups have threatened to stage a protest.

“This is unfair. We have been dropping grain at this spot for decades. The issue concerns the religious sentiments of the Jain community. The BMC must restore the kabutarkhana. Else, we will go on a protest,” said Paras Jain, member of a local temple trust.

Paras said several traders from south Mumbai as well as Jain temple trusts volunteer to supply grain to feed pigeons at Gateway.
Animal activists, too, slammed the BMC’s move. Sunish Subramanian Kunju, founder of NGO Plant & Animals Welfare Society, Mumbai, said, “Birds have become used to getting food at particular feeding spots. If that is suddenly stopped, then they will panic. The BMC must not take such arbitrary steps, and must bring out a clear policy on kabutarkhanas, instead,” he said.

The activists and bird feeders have the backing of local BJP corporator Makarand Narwekar. He said pigeons are intrinsically tied to Gateway’s charm. “They are as iconic as the monument itself. To completely stop feeding is not fair. We have requested the BMC to restore the feeding area and the water troughs. The BMC has agreed to allow feeding at a smaller portion of the promenade. We will ask it to give enough space so that those feeding pigeons will not be inconvenienced,” said Narwekar.

Not official kabutarkhana

BMC officials said permission for a kaburtarkhana at Gateway was never granted, adding that feeding of birds at the promenade had become a nuisance. “The feeding area kept expanding, even though there was no official nod for a kabutarkhana. There is no space for tourists who visit Gateway and it was not possible to keep aside so much space for pigeons,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A ward, under which Gateway falls. “Since the Swachhta Hi Seva event was to be held there, we removed the barricades and stopped pigeon feeding. We will talk to those who are protesting against the BMC’s action.”

Narwekar said if pigeon feeding is a nuisance to tourists, then the BMC should designate a small space for it. “Stopping feeding suddenly is cruelty.” Another BMC official said on Saturday evening, a group of residents resumed feeding at the promenade. “However, it will not be possible to give back the entire space. We will examine the issue in detail next week.”


About Pigeon Patrol:

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products four years in a row.

Contact Info: 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD (