Avian influenza: Unauthorized extortion of money from poor poultry farmers.

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GHP Raju

Some people taking advantage of the present Bird Flu has began extortion from trucks and mini vehicles carrying poultry and poultry products into Meghalaya from Assam, even though the Northeastern states are still free from avian influenza and the movement of poultry and poultry products through out Northeast is allowed. 

Principal Secretary in-charge Veterinary & Animal Husbandry, GHP Raju has requested the district administration of Ri Bhoi to take action against NGOs who are indulging in extorting money from trucks carrying poultry and poultry products.

 Speaking to reporters, Raju said that he has received complaints that some enthusiastic NGOs in Ri Bhoi district are harassing the trucks and mini vehicles carrying poultry and poultry products into Meghalaya from Assam.

 According to him, each truck has to pay Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.

 “I am writing a DO letter to the DC as well as the SP to immediately swing into action to contain and control the activities of the so-called NGOs. I am also requesting them to please take up the cases under extortion for the benefits of our farmers,” Raju said.

 Stating that the NGOs have no business to harass the farmers of the state, the principal secretary said, “I request these NGOs to refrain from indulging in any illegal activities which are detrimental to the business of local farmers.”

 On the other hand, Raju also ruled out any sign of bird flu in Meghalaya as well as in other states of the North east.

 “However, the ban to bring poultry products from the mainland through Assam is still continuing,” he said.

 Asked, Raju said that the department is carefully assessing the situation every day and has created 138 rapid action teams (RATs).

 Each team comprises of one veterinary doctor and two assistants and are keeping in touch with poultry business people in almost all the 46 blocks in the state for getting immediate and timely feedback.  

 The teams are also engaged in educating the poultry farmers on how to identify the signs and symptoms of bird flu.

On being asked, the principal secretary said that there is no shortage of poultry in the state despite the ban.

 “However, we are informing the consumers through the media that not to worry or panic, it is safe to consume poultry and poultry products,” he said.

 He however admitted that the demand has come down. “We have 50 million birds both the domestic, the backyard farming and the private poultry owners who are keeping a stock of nearly 4 lakh. The department has nearly 12 poultry farms where nearly 30,000 birds are housed, so enough stock is there of the poultry live birds as well as the eggs,” he added.