BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Centre has banned diclofenac, a livestock painkiller which has been responsible for pushing vulture population in the country to near extinction, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Union Government as well as States to take stern measures for implementation of the ban.
The commission has directed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to constitute a committee for monitoring the misuse of the banned drug and also instructed the State governments to keep a close watch on the markets.
The apex rights body has accepted the Centre’s report on steps taken to check misuse of the banned drug in animals but has asked for strict measures to ensure total prohibition. The Government has submitted that manufacture, sale and distribution of diclofenac and its formulations for animal use have been banned vide Gazette notification since 2008.
As the ban was found to be dodged by unscrupulous veterinarians and chemists, who began to divert diclofenac for human use to animals, the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) went further amending the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945 in 2014 to make it mandatory that the drug for human use shall be packed in single dose pack only, the Union Health Ministry submitted, though it is yet to give a report on similar misuse of aceclofenac in animals.
Diclofenac poisoning has virtually wiped out the vulture population in India. While more than 90 per cent of the scavenger population is estimated to have been erased, the sudden collapse of natural animal disposal system is taking a heavy toll on environment and human life.
The issue was brought to the notice of the NHRC through a petition by Rights activist Akhand.
As carcasses, which were previously eaten by vultures, now rot in the open fields, the surroundings are not only polluted but drinking water sources are also getting increasingly contaminated.
Taking cognisance of the allegations that diclofenac was rampantly used in animals despite ban, the commission had sought a report from Centre. While accepting the measures taken, it has closed the case.