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West U.P. turns hotspot of cattle disease

Farmers allege lack of vaccines, doctors to tackle lumpy skin; Minister says dedicated teams deployed

Vijay, a farmer near Shamli in western Uttar Pradesh, lost two of his cows in the past 10 days to the lumpy skin disease. “One was a milking cow and the other was just two-and-a-half year old,” says Vijay adding that many in his village were going through a similar situation. He is now left with two cows and one buffalo.

According to farmers, the infection is spreading like wildfire in western Uttar Pradesh. “There is no intervention from the government. There is no compensation for farmers who lost their cows and buffaloes. There is no treatment or vaccination. Those who do cattle-rearing are forced to manage this disease on their own,” said a farmers’ leader from Shamli, Jitender Singh Hudda. Mr. Hudda said farmers would launch protests if the administration continues to neglect the situation. “Hundreds of cows are infected. The deaths are also on the rise. It is an emergency situation,” he said.

The State government has a different position. Livestock and Dairy Development Minister Dharam Pal Singh told The Hindu that the government was dealing with the issue with utmost seriousness. “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is regularly monitoring the situation. We have deployed dedicated teams with veterinary doctors to the western Uttar Pradesh districts sharing a boundary with other States. Our effort is not to allow the infection to spread to eastern Uttar Pradesh or other parts of the State,” Mr. Singh said.

He said that all borders had been blocked and transport, sale, trade and cattle trade fairs banned. “Particular attention has been given to districts such as Saharanpur, Meerut and Bijnore. Farmers have been advised about the precautions to be adopted at cattle sheds. Vaccination has been started. Goshalas will be given priority in the process,” Mr. Singh said adding that teams are working similar to the COVID-19 management teams. “Our report is that nearly 100 cows had died. We are trying to give all assistance to farmers,” he said. Asked about compensation, he said the priority now was to check the spread of the disease.

‘A different story’

But farmers have a different story. Chandrapal Singh is into cattle-rearing and is also an All India Kisan Sabha activist from Bulandshahar, close to Gautam Buddh Nagar district. “The spread is very high here, particularly among cows. There is no governmental aid. Vaccines and doctors are not available. There is not a single village that is not affected by the infection in our locality. Cows will have big abscesses on their skins along with fever and they will die. Authorities told us that they do not have proper facilities. Fifteen to 20 villages have one veterinary doctor. They just asked us to create space between the cows. We had complained to the authorities, but it is of no use. In my village, some 30 cows died. Milk production has come down,” Mr. Singh said.

Another worry is that though cows are recovering, the disease damaged their general health. “Their livers are getting damaged. The death rate has been high in the past two weeks. Thirty cows died in my village. Not a single doctor has visited,” said Dharamveer, a farmer.

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