THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the backdrop of Covid-19, the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) has introduced a change in strategy to attend to animals in flood-hit areas. A district-level telemedicine facility and emergency veterinary team to assist farmers have reduced the number of camps required to attend to the cattle. “There is a good response from farmers to the telemedicine facility. Besides saving time, we are able to consider cases on a priority basis,” said Dr R Venugopal, assistant director, AHD. According to him, each centre gets around 10-15 calls each day. The facilities started in the wake of the pandemic have become effective in flood-situation as the farmers could utilise it for alerting the authorities. In Rajamala in Idukki, the department made a quick intervention to help 67 stranded cattle and offered fodder worth `1 lakh.
Supply of fodder and timely treatment are crucial for the survival of cattle population in flooded areas. According to the AHD, cattle in Kottayam and Idukki are the worst-affected by the flood so far. As per the preliminary estimates, 1,200 animals in Kottayam have been affected and two deaths have been recorded. The loss is estimated at around `12 lakh. “The farmers have anticipated flood situation and made necessary arrangement themselves. Lack of preparedness led to the loss of over 5,100 mulching cows in the flash floods of 2018.
The AHD has also directed the Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) at taluk levels to prepare an action plan to attend to animals in flood-hit areas. In an emergency, shifting cattle to safer sheds could not be completely avoided. “RRTs have identified safe zones in flood-prone areas. Directives have been issued to shift the animals in case of an eventuality,” said Dr Madhu C, director of AHD. According to him, feeding stranded animals, emergency treatment and distribution of compensation as per the National Disaster Response Fund are the responsibilities of AHD. It spends `70 for feeding a cow daily and `35 for each goat as per the norms. The department has set aside `40 lakh in addition to the fund of the District Collector for flood mitigation.