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African Swine Fever: Dispur orders culling of the infected pigs before Durga Puja

It was estimated that some 10,000 pigs might be culled from the first week of September

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GUWAHATI: In view of the prevailing African swine fever (ASF) which afflicted the state, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday directed Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to complete culling of the infected swine population before the ensuing Durga Puja.

Chairing a meeting with Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department at Assam Administrative Staff College here, Sonowal said that in compliance with the guidelines of the Central and state governments and adhering to experts’ opinion, culling of the infected swine population in all the affected districts should be completed before Durga Puja.

Earlier, it was estimated that some 10,000 pigs might be culled from the first week of September to check the spread of ASF. Since May, ASF has claimed almost 18,000 pigs. The veterinary department had said that it has left out with no option but to cull pigs in at least 29 identified containment zones located in 14 districts. Assam has the highest pig population in the country.

“As a result of the culling operation, the loss incurred by the farmers will be adequately compensated,” Sonowal added. The CM informed that the Central government has already released the first installments of the fund and the state government will immediately release its share for the compensation as well as for other measures to deal with the pestilence.

Sources said that pig farmers would be paid between Rs 2,200 and Rs 15,000 depending on the weight of the pigs to be culled.

The meeting also discussed the supply of pigs to Assam from different parts of the country. In the aftermath of the African Swine Fever outbreak, though the supply of pigs to Assam from other parts of the country is put on hold, as per the directions of the Central government and order of the court, Sonowal asked the senior officers of the department to ensure that no encumbrances creep in while transporting pigs to other states of North East through Assam.

Sonowal also asked the department to conduct a survey on all the government farms across the state. He also said that in a move to involve more youths in the piggery sector, the government farms may be operated and managed on a public-private partnership to encourage self-employment.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat,  Sonowal asked the functionaries of the department to prepare investment policy into the sector from private investors. The meeting also discussed the implementation of the Centre’s flagship scheme of saving the livestock population from foot and mouth disease.