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NHRC seeks ATR from Centre on ‘diclofenac’ misuse

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, May 26:

Acting on a complaint of Odisha based human rights campaigner Akhand, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action taken report (ATR) from the Union government over the misuse of ‘diclofenac’, a painkiller banned for veterinary use in the country, which affects human life by creating environmental imbalance.

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The Commission has directed Health & Family Welfare and Environment & Forest Ministry to submit their replies in the matter within four weeks.

The human rights activists, in his petition, said “Diclofenac poisoning has drastically brought down vulture population in India, pushing them to the brink of extinction. The sudden collapse of the natural animal disposal system in India has had obvious and multiple consequences on human beings by creating environment imbalance affecting human life”.

Akhand pointed out that carcasses, earlier eaten by vultures, now rot in village fields seriously contaminating drinking water and ultimately endangering human life.

The petitioner argued that the disappearance of vultures has allowed other species, such as rats and wild dogs, to take their place. These newly abundant scavengers, however, are not as efficient as vultures. While a vulture’s metabolism is in fact a true “dead-end” for pathogens (rabies, anthrax, plague, etc.), dogs and rats instead become carriers of the pathogens.

These wild dogs, carrying diseases from rotting carcasses, are directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of human deaths, he said.

Today in India, 30,000 people die from rabies each year, more than half the world’s total. 70% of the victims are children under the age of 15, he added.

“Government is not serious about the issue. Looking into the vulture deaths in the country, the Centre had banned ‘diclofenac’ and its formulations for veterinary use on July 4, 2008. But it is still being used to treat livestock, killing vultures – one of the primary reasons for which it was banned”, alleged Akhand.

The petitioner said ‘diclofenac’ is readily available with the chemists and drug stores as it is also used to treat humans.

Of late chemists selling veterinary drugs are selling ‘diclofenac’ formulations meant for human beings to livestock farmers, he alleged.

The petitioner sought an inquiry about the effect of death of vultures on human beings and a total ban on medicines having ‘diclofenac’ composition.