Tuesday, January 29, 2008

India : Corruption and Culling

 

# 1561

 

 

You could almost understand why poor villagers, deprived of their poultry and told they can't begin raising new birds for at least 3 months, would try to `negotiate'  with the culling teams over the number of birds they'd lost. 

 

In a country where some families still live on less than a dollar a day, every rupee is precious. And make no mistake, even with government compensation, these villagers will be hit hard by this cull.

 

Less understandable is what  appears to be a systematic looting of the compensation fund by village politicians.   From the sound of this article, in just over a week's time, they've managed to turn this crisis into a tidy profit center.

 

(Not that this isn't done in some fashion, every day, somewhere in the world)

 

As a result of the pressure brought on them to falsify culling certificates, some cullers are refusing to work.  Other's have walked off the job saying they were overworked and `too tired' to continue.

 

Despite optimistic dispatches from the West Bengal government, it appears that the culling operation is hitting some snags.

 

This from the BBC.

 

 

 

Bird flu cull hit by 'corruption'

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Several culling teams have stopped working in districts of West Bengal hit by bird flu, complaining of corruption.

 

They say that they are being put under pressure by local politicians to exaggerate the number of birds killed so that more compensation is paid.

 

Some of the extra money is pocketed by local politicians, they say.

 

Nearly 200 culling team members have withdrawn from working in Rampurhat and Baroncha in protest against "pressure for false certificates".

 

'Too tired'

 

"If we kill five birds, we are asked to certify the killing of 50 birds so that the villagers get more compensation, part of which is pocketed by the village politicians," alleged Pintu Ghosh, member of a culling team at Rampurhat.

 

The decision by some culling team members in Rampurhat and Baroncha in Murshidbad district is significant, because these are areas worst hit by bird flu, where culling targets have been constantly upped as the epidemic spreads.

 

Rural poultry farmers have been badly affected

 

The officials all work for West Bengal's health and animal husbandry departments.

 

In the district of Nadia, other culling teams have stopped work because they say they are "too tired".

 

"We are too few and our task is huge. We have been working relentlessly for the last week," said Chandan Das, a culling team member.

 

Desperate district administrators have threatened to arrest those members of culling teams who pull out of work.

 

On Monday, officials said that the epidemic has spread to 13 of West Bengal's 19 districts.

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