Despite a state government order banning the import of poultry and poultry products through all the national highways connecting the state and airport, there seems to be a free flow of the products through Imphal airport creating artificial scarcity leading to high prices in the state.
In a bizarre turn of events, there seems to be a free flow of poultry and poultry products through the Imphal airport despite the “temporary ban” by the state government since January 11, 2021, “in view of the reported outbreak of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in some of the states of the country which is highly contagious avian disease having zoonotic potential of causing a huge loss in terms of mortality and trade of poultry”.
Commissioner (Vety & A.H), government of Manipur, H Gyan Prakash, in an order, had imposed a temporary ban on entry of poultry and poultry products such as poultry egg, meat, and live birds including ducks/ guinea fowls/ turkey and quails as a precautionary measure through all the national highways connecting the state and airport in the interest of preventing the escalation of the disease in Manipur and other Northeastern states.
Copies of the order were also sent to the director general of Civil Aviation, New Delhi and the director of the Airport Authority of India, Imphal, amongst others.
Talking to TFM, Chongtham Dhurva Khaba, a poultry and piggery farmer, said that such non-compliance with the government’s order will not only lead to artificial scarcity of the poultry products but also posed a risk of importing the Avian Influenza itself in the state. He also expressed apprehension that some influential people might be involved in orchestrating a “black market”.
According to Dhurva, there has been non-stop importing of poultry products through the airport while it has been banned through surface transport since January 11. It has created constraints in the market, leading to an increase in prices of the commodities, he added.
Interestingly, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, government of India, on January 14 wrote letters to the chief secretaries of the states requesting them “to issue an instruction to concerned state authorities and local administration not to impose ban and allow selling of poultry products sourced from the non-infected areas/ states etc.”
The letter also said that the banning of the movement of poultry because of infection in wild birds is not justifiable and does not have a scientific basis. The ban should be imposed only within the radius of 10 Km of the infected zone. It further clarified that the virus gets destroyed at 70 degree centigrade within 3 second. Therefore, consumption of meat and egg properly cooked at 70 degree have no risk, it added.
Dhurva lamented that the concerned authorities have not taken any positive steps despite several complaints in this regard.
Dhurva Khaba also mentioned that the banning of poultry products amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is not appropriate. “Poultry products serve as the main source of proteins, which in turn help us remain healthy. As the authority has been advising us to live a healthy life, such products are essential,” he added.
He further said that the artificial scarcity has led to poor families unable to afford the high price of poultry products. He urged the state government to look into the matter at the earliest and take prompt action.