The plan released by the government on July 26, 2019 has updated existing guidelines related to the deadly equine disease
Equine fairs, congregations, shows, or any equestrian events in which equines from the ‘unorganised sector’ take part, shall not be permitted within a 25-kilometre radius of an area declared afflicted with glanders.
That is just one of the many provisions of the National Action Plan for Control and Eradication of Glanders in India released by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on July 26, 2019.
Glanders is a contagious and fatal disease of equines, including horses, donkeys and mules. It is caused by infection due to the bacterium Burkholderia mallei (B. mallei).
A notifiable disease in India since 1899, the most recent set of guidelines regarding glanders were issued by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in 2017.
According to the National Action Plan, the existing guidelines have now been updated "to stop the outbreak of glanders in infected states and prevent the spread of the disease to non-infected states/zones".
Also, according to the new plan, the veterinary authority of a state where many adjoining districts have reported the disease, shall take a decision about whether to permit a fair or not.
According to the new plan, fairs, congregations, shows or any equestrian events would be permitted in a district provided that
"It is a welcome sign that the government has come out with this plan to tackle glanders," Bhupendra Nath Tripathi, Director of the Hisar-based ICAR-National research Centre for Equines (ICAR-NRCE) told Down To Earth.
"Many of the new guidelines are what we had ourselves suggested. The difference between this plan and the older guidelines issued by the government is huge," he said.
He then explained why. "In November and December, 2017, there was an outbreak of glanders in Delhi and a notification was issued that it was a glanders-affected zone. Thus, the movement of equines was affected. That had an effect on the Republic Day parade of 2018."
Tripathi said the old guidelines were "vague and tough and affected the movement of equines even in organised setups like race clubs and the army".
"In these set-ups, equines are usually glanders-free. Then why should they suffer in case of an outbreak?" he asked
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