Ambitious 24x7 mobile animal clinic scheme stalled in State

Ambitious 24x7 mobile animal clinic scheme stalled in State

Vets and farmers claim ambulances are in short supply

Ambitious 24x7 mobile animal clinic scheme stalled in State

When Basappa, a farmer from Tagachkuppe in Kengeri hobli, realised his cow
Raksha had injured her leg while grazing, he thought it would just take one visit by the local veterinarian to examine her and treat the wound.

But the local veterinarian refused to come to his farm and instead told him to take the cow to the nearest clinic. Left with no option, Basappa was forced to hire a van to take his cow to the clinic. “I spent Rs 3,000 on transport. Doctors refuse to come to my village as it is quite far from the clinic,” he said.

When this reporter saw him, he was sitting near the Kengeri bus stop, tired and frustrated because the van had broken down. “What do I do now?” he asked.

“Booking another van will mean another Rs 3,000. Where do I get so much money from?” Basappa’s ordeal has become the typical problem faced by many livestock owners in the State. Karnataka has only one mobile veterinary clinic per taluk, which also doubles as an emergency vehicle. Most farmers have to depend on private vehicles to take their cattle and farm animals to veterinarians.

According to the Karnataka Livestock Development Policy (2010) report, the livestock population in Karnataka stood at 3.07 crore.

Two years ago, the government had announced the launch of 24x7 animal ambulances in rural areas, as part of the Dhanvantri scheme. Gulbarga was to be the first district to have the scheme implemented. It was to have a toll-free number wherein people could call an ambulance.

But the scheme, to be launched on a pilot basis in 26 taluks in five districts, has not seen the light of the day. Bangalore Urban and Bangalore Rural, for instance, which have eight taluks, have just eight of these emergency vehicles.

Most veterinarians said they have never seen a single ambulance. “It’s only the rich that can afford to care for their injured animals on their own. Even the government veterinary clinics are ‘pet clinics’. There is nothing for the cattle or other farm animals. If the government says they have these mobile clinics, then how is it that nobody has ever seen them or no farmer has ever used them?” asked Dr Thyagaraj from the Animal Care Trust.

Govt response

According to Shivaram Bhat, the joint director of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences, the mobile clinics conduct regular rounds every day in all the taluks. Each of the clinics has one qualified veterinarian and one assistant, and carries sufficient stock of medicine. “There is one ambulance for every taluk, which covers three to four routes a week. They take care of all the animals in their given area,” Bhat said.

He admitted, however, that this number is insufficient for the number of livestock and animals in the State. “There is a demand for more, but we have to manage with what we have,” he said. Officials declined to comment further on the scheme, citing the election code of conduct.

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