New Delhi, Aug 23: Amidst the deaths of lakhs of pigs due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) across the Northeastern states since May 2020, a Parliamentary Committee has found that the allocation for the year 2020-21 for the Classical Swine Fever Control Programme (CSF-CP) was 'zero'.
Swine Fever is one of the most important virus-borne diseases for the pigs. ASF and CSF are caused by very similar viruses that are distinguishable by lab tests only.
According to World Organisation for Animal Health, the 100 per cent fatal ASF is a viral haemorrhagic disease that infects pigs and wild boars. With no cure or vaccine, isolation or culling are the only ways to further prevent its spread.
The Committee has said it is 'constrained' to note that the sub-components on Professional Efficiency Development (PED), National Animal Disease Reporting System (NADRS) and Classical Swine Fever Control Programme (CSF-CP) show 'zero allocations' for the year 2020-21.
"The nil achievement of physical targets regarding vaccination doses to pigs in NE states under CSF-CP during 2020-21 and 'Zero Trainings' conducted under PED during the years 2015-16, 2016-17 and also during 2020-21 further add to the displeasure of the Committee," the Parliamentary panel report has said.
The report, pertaining to the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, titled 'Status of Veterinary Services and Availability of Animal Vaccine in the Country'.
According to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Classical Swine Fever (CSF) is a major constraint to the development of pig farming in the Northeast part of the country, where pig farming is a major source of livelihood.
In order to control the disease in pigs, Central assistance is provided for vaccination against the CSF.
The government scheme on Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH&DC) was formulated with a view to provide financial assistance as the Central share to states/UTs for control and containment of animal diseases, with a funding pattern of 60:40 between the Centre and state (90:10 for Northeastern & Himalayan states and 100 per cent for UTs).
According to the National Livestock Census 2019, the total population of pigs in the country was 9.06 million, a decline by 12.03 per cent over the previous Census. Of these, Assam alone had 2.10 million pigs.
Meanwhile, according to the President of the North East Progressive Pig Farmers Association (NEPPFA), Manoj Kumar Basumatary, "When pigs started dying last year in Arunachal Pradesh, the government hardly kept any track. The disease spread to Assam then. This year, it has spread to Mizoram and Meghalaya and the numbers rose from thousands to lakhs."
"The government does not have any estimate of pig deaths as it has not kept track of it. However, our Association estimates that of the 20-lakh odd pigs across Assam, we have lost almost 10 lakh," he claimed.
Incidentally, the African Swine Fever's first casualty happened in Arunachal Pradesh in 2020 but the Livestock Census 2019 makes no mention of pig population in the state.
The panel, chaired by Parvatagouda Chandanagouda Gaddigoudar, also expressed concern to note the huge difference between figures on budgeted expenditure proposed and the budget allocated under the LH&DC scheme from 2017-18 to 2021-22.
"Against a proposed allocation of Rs 1,553.03 crore, the Department was allocated a mere Rs 298.77 crore at the BE stage in 2017-18 and this trend of drastic reduction at the BE Stage has continued up to the year 2021-22 with allocated BE being Rs 370.00 crore as against a proposed amount of Rs 909.39 crore," the Committee observed.
Moreover, funds allocated at the Revised Estimate stage were further reduced from the years 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The panel expressed satisfaction over the total percentage expenditure of the funds allocated to the Department, that has constantly been over 98 per cent from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
However, it noted with 'discontent' that under some sub-components of the LH&DC Scheme, 'nil' financial progress and 'zero' physical achievements have been made at some point during the period from 2015-16 to 2020-21.
The Committee further expressed 'utter dismay' while taking note that no Veterinary Hospitals/Dispensaries were strengthened or established during the years 2017-18 and 2020-21
Similarly 'nil' achievements made regarding searching of village/stock routes during the years 2015-16 and 2017-18, the report said.
The panel recommended the Ministry of Finance to "bear in mind the proposed allocation projected by the department and make fund allocations commensurate with its need so that important schemes and programmes do not suffer for want of funds."
The Committee also sought to be apprised of the actions taken by the department in this regard.