Vet population dries up in State

Vet population dries up in State

Acute shortage of trained manpower has crippled veterinary services

Veterinary services in the State are severely crippled by acute shortage of doctors. With an animal population of 3.5 crore, the State has only 1,752 veterinary doctors against the requirement of at least 4,000 trained professionals.

The problem has its genesis at the grassroots level - the mismatch between the demand and supply of veterinary graduates. On an average, 120 graduates come out of three veterinary colleges in the State every year. The number may go up to 150 with the opening of one more college in Shimoga. The remaining colleges are situated in Bangalore, Bidar and Hassan.

With an intake of 220 students for each college, as many as 840 students are admitted to the four-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry course. The admission is also not that easy.

Students of general category securing less than 90 per cent marks in second year PU may find it difficult to get a seat, according to Dr Yathiraj, Dean, Veterinary College, Bangalore. He said there were around 3,200 applicants for the 220 seats last year.

All the colleges function under the Veterinary Council of India. The courses are highly subsidised as animal husbandry comes under the agriculture sector. There are no private veterinary colleges.
“More than the shortage of graduates, the lucrative opportunities in private sector have rendered the government jobs unattractive.

“Veterinarians are finding jobs in research institutions, non-governmental organisations and multinational companies,” Dr Yathiraj said.

Notwithstanding the shortage of doctors, the State government created 2,392 posts after a gap of several years. As many as 640 such vacancies are yet to be filled up. Veterinary officers need to be posted at all the 747 hoblis in the State.

However, doctors have been posted to only 300 odd hospitals.

The worst hit are the districts in North Karnataka as the doctors posted there use their political clout to be posted elsewhere.

Brain drain

Among the meagre number of veterinary graduates who come out of the colleges, at least 15 manage to secure plum postings by passing the Karnataka Public Service Commission examination.

Consequently, veterinary graduates end up serving Revenue, Excise or some other ‘unrelated’ departments.

Dr Srinivasa Reddy, President, Karnataka Veterinary Association, said the ‘creamy layer’ of graduates who join the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department, do not continue for long. A couple of them join civil services.

“Majority of the veterinary graduates are working as tahsildars, assistant commissioners or deputy superintendents of police,” he said.

Of the remaining, some choose to pursue higher studies abroad and others opt for private practice.

Poor prospects

The reason for the attrition is not far to seek. Reddy said a block development officer or an executive officer in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department would get at least six promotions in 15 years of service. However, promotions are a luxury in the veterinary department. An officer would get one promotion in his long service, and sometimes not even that.

Poor pay scale is an another reason. “The Association has urged the government to bring our salary on a par with that of medical officers and to upgrade our cadre. A high- powered committee set up by the government too had made a recommendation to the effect. The report, submitted four months ago, is yet to be acted upon,” Reddy said.

Assigning election duty to doctors is another bone of contention. According to Association members, the Election Commission has categorically banned deploying veterinary doctors on poll duty.

A veterinary officer in Bijapur, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was not spared from Grama Panchayat poll duty, conducted in the district recently. He said was forced to work as returning officer despite the responsibility to manage three hospitals and a veterinary clinic.

T B Jayachandra, the Congress legislator from Sira and former agriculture minister said the constraints faced by the department were impacting the farmers adversely.

Money making

“More than 45 veterinary officers are on deputation to the RD&PR department. A majority of them are interested only in making money. And, that’s the reason they seek plum postings. The government must amend the RDPR Act and the State Public Service Commission Act to curb the trend,” he said.

Revu Naik Belamagi, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Minister was candid in his admission.

“Yes, there is a shortage. But we have ensured that most of the graduates recently recruited are posted to North Karnataka. To overcome the shortage, we will launch a two-year diploma course – Bankapur (Dharwad district) and Konehalli (Tumkur district),” he said.

The olive branch 

*  A committee headed by former additional chief secretary Meera Saxena was constituted on reorganisation of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department. The following are major recommendations of the panel, which submitted its report in October 2011.

*  Veterinary officers who are presently paid basic salary of Rs 13,000 (Rs 23,850) be given a salary of Rs 14,050 (Rs 25,050), on a par with the medical officers.

*  Higher pay scale would help in retaining officers

*  Veterinarians working in rural areas be paid rural allowance of Rs 7,000 a month and Rs 8,000 for those with a PG degree. The proposal may cost Rs 1.22 crore to the exchequer

*  Time-bound promotions should be given to officers after six years and 13 years of service

*  All hobli headquarters should have veterinary hospitals.

Pay disparity 

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