Despite Govt notification bringing chicken, mutton under essential commodities, sale not allowed in JK

Poultry owners worried, face over Rs 1.5 cr loss daily

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, Apr 6: Despite the notification of Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Government of India asking State Governments to launch a campaign that chicken and eggs have no role in spreading the COVID -19 and instead it is good for building immunity for the people and Home Ministry’s order bringing the mutton, fish and its allied products under essential commodities asking States to ensure their sale during the lockdown but these orders are not being implemented in J&K putting the people dealing with the trade to a heavy loss.
Prior to these, two orders issued by MHA and Ministry of Fisheries and Dairies GoI, the Secretary Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, J&K UT, Simrandeep Singh had issued an order on March 22 bringing mutton, poultry, eggs and poultry feed under the Essential Commodities. Though the Government had time and again made announcements that the essential services will be run during the lockdown also why not the mutton and poultry products sale is allowed in J&K is the question being asked by the people dealing with this trade.
According to sources, the people dealing with the trade have not only been put to daily loss of over Rs 1.5 crore in J&K but the birds including chicks in poultries and hatcheries have started dying for want of fodder which too has become scarce due to lockdown. Some of the owners of hatcheries and poultry farms are left with no alternative but to allow the birds and chicks to die as there is no market to sell them, sources added.
Sources said the people dealing with the trade are worried saying that there business which was one of the main source of employment generation in rural areas of the J&K has been hit hard.
Earlier the poultry unit holders were facing the problems due to over production and now the COVID-19 has worsened the problem, sources said, adding that people in the J&K and rest of country had left eating chicken, mutton and fish due to the rumors spread over social media that the same can be cause for spreading COVID-19 and now the sale has been completely stopped.
Sources said that neighboring Punjab and Haryana Governments following the Central Government guidelines have allowed shops dealing with food, grocery including those selling eggs, poultry meat, mutton and fish during the lockdown as these are cheap source of protein and boost the immunity of human body. But the same order has not been made applicable in J&K, sources added.
Showing their dismay over the Government’s approach poultry farm, hatchery owners and mutton sellers said they don’t know why the UT Government is adamant in not allowing these business units to open despite the fact that they fall under essential services.
Tarun Gandotra, owner of Chick Mac Bidders, Nagbani said the farmers have been put to a heavy loss due to lockdown. There is a Central Government order regarding opening of the shops but the J&K UT Government is not honouring it. “The birds are dying and we have no alternative to save them as the feed is also not available. Moreover due to halt of business the proprietors have run short of money also’’, he added.
He said daily one crore chicks were sold in J&K. Out of them, 35 to 40 lakh are sold in Jammu and about 60 lakh in Kashmir. This entire business has come to a stand still, he added.
He said the Poultry industry was earlier put to loss by removing nine percent toll on poultry products at Lakhanpur and they were yet to overcome it and now the lockdown due to COVID-19 compounded their problems.
Besides, the poultry owners and hatchery owners are facing problems of raw material as fodder and feed is not available which is being hoarded and stocked, he said.
Baljit Singh representing Poultry Owners Association Jammu said that per day the Poultry industry is approximately losing Rs 1.5 crore. This is minus the loss suffered by hatcheries, he added. Over one lakh people have turned unemployed after the lockdown in J&K who were associated with this trade in different ways. He said there was a major loss to hatcheries as one day old chicks have no market available due to lockdown.
Singh, while expressing his concern over the Government style of functioning said the DC Kathua has issued the permission to a Punjab based vehicle carrying chicken to Srinagar but no such permission is granted to inter -district transportation of chicken and chicks in J&K. This shows the double standards of the Government, he added.
About 40,000 broilers are going to perish in my Poultry Farm, said Amrit Wattal, Proprietor, R R Poultry Farm and JK Hatcheries in case the sale of poultry was not allowed. He said one fails to understand what the administration wants to do with this industry. Are they going to perish us this way? When there is no ban on mutton, poultry products in neighbouring States why it has been imposed in J&K”? he asked.
He said 2000 to 3000 chicken in his poultry farm have died as there was no feed available. Moreover, there is no labor available also. The Government needs to look into the problem as in view of changing of weather more problems are being faced and precautions needed to protect the birds, he added.
He said even the chain of business has been affected and chicks have also started perishing as the owners of hatcheries are helpless. “This is livestock which we can’t dump’’. Same problem was faced by mutton sellers who too wanted to know why the shops are not being allowed to open when the item has been brought in essential commodities.
When contacted, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Verma said that there is no ban and mutton shops and chicken shops are open in various parts of the city including Gandhi Nagar, Paloura, Janipur. He, however, said that certain precautions are being taken in view of the spread of deadly Coronavirus and the administration needs cooperation of all.
Director Animal Husbandry, Jammu, Vicky Sharma said that the issue was brought in her notice by owners of Poultry farms and they said that they are facing problems. “I took up the issue with administration and also gave directives to the Chief Animal Husbandry officers to ensure that the poultry farm owners don’t suffer’’. She said the problem has arisen due to communication gap and it will be sorted out soon.