Banned diclofenac still kills vultures

The Indian government may have banned dicolfenac, a livestock painkiller, but the drug still continues to be sold in Punjab. It is also still killing vultures - one of the primary reasons for which it was banned. The drug was banned for veterinary use last year, but is easily available in the market

In Punjab, only a few hundred vultures are left and can now be found in a select few pockets

in Gurdaspur district. A worried Punjab wildlife department blames the animal husbandry department for "the rampant use of diclofenac" putting in danger the lives of one of the nature's best scavengers. Rea searchers have found traces of the banned drug in vultures that feed on the dead cattle and other animals. The drug makes the shell of the birds' eggs brittle. It develops cracks and breaks even before hatching period is over.

Director, animal husbandry department, Dr H S Sandha, said that the wildlife officials have informed them about the drug. "Diclofenac is readily available with the chemists and private drug stores because it can be used to treat humans also. So, now the chemists selling veterinary drugs have started selling those meant for human beings."

Sandha added that he has also apprised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of the entire problems. It is the health department that issues licence to the chemists to sell the drugs. The department needs to seize the drug available at shops. Also, the problem would die its own natural death if the manufacturing if the drug was banned, he added.

A random check at chemist shops near dairies of Haibowal, Tajpur road reveals easy availability of diclofenac tablets and injections. Even in villages, the farmers still use the drug to cure fever, inflammation and other problems in cattle.

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