African swine flu killing Assam pigs; govt sets up expert panel

African swine flu killing Assam pigs; govt sets up expert panel

Guwahati: Assam government has set up a 20-member panel to look into and suggest measures to address the crisis arising out of hundreds of pigs dying because of African swine flu.

“Samples were sent to the laboratory in Bhopal. According to their report, African Swine flu is the reason why pigs in Assam are dying,” Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said addressing a press conference on Saturday.

According to centre’s guidelines all pigs need to be culled to contain the spread of the flu but, “this could hurt the pig farmers financially because there are many young entrepreneurs who have taken up piggery as a means of livelihood and they have taken bank loans too. So we have decided to hold discussions with the pig farmers. We have set up a 20-member high-powered panel to look into the matter. The panel will suggest ways to address the problem,” Bora said.

The panel will be headed by Secretary, Government of Assam and members would include senior officials of department of animal husbandry, veterinary and senior faculty of Assam Agriculture University, the minister said.

A meeting of the panel is likely to be held tomorrow.

“We suspect the flu has entered Assam from Arunachal. The first pig deaths were reported from Jonai, a place along the Assam -Arunachal border and then it spread to other areas like Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Sibsagar.

So far over 2226 pigs have died in the state due to the virus. The state is estimated to have a pig population of 30 lakh.