The local livestock farmers have appealed to the government to help address their grievances by making functional the veterinary hospitals that have been lying closed for a long time.

The farmers said that most of the civil veterinary hospitals and civil veterinary dispensaries had been converted into ghost bungalows. According to sources, there are 10 civil veterinary hospitals, 15 civil veterinary dispensaries, 57 union council veterinary centres, 6 artificial insemination centres, 20 artificial insemination subcentres in Khanewal district. In this huge setup, a large number of employees are enjoying without doing any task during the year, and drawing salaries in millions.

The Khanewal Livestock Department consists of district, three deputy district officer, 12 veterinary officers, 6 senior veterinary officers, 3 assistant principal veterinary officers, 53 veterinary assistants, 23 assistant insemination technicians and district council veterinary assistant. However, they said their performance was not appreciable.

Livestock is a more secure source of income for the small farmers. It is an important sector in Pakistan’s economy and it contributes about 11.9 percent in the GDP of Pakistan. Livestock sector is considered to be a net source of invariable income for rural and middle grade agri-business holders. It can play a major role in poverty alleviation in the rural areas.

The farmers said that with the hike in the cost of agricultural inputs and decline in irrigation water supplies, increasing number of farmers were turning toward livestock raising but they were facing great difficulties even in this area because of non-functioning veterinary hospitals.  Most of the livestock and veterinary hospital employees are running their private veterinary centres; millions of rupees were being spent on paying salary to the veterinary staff that was of no use to farmers, they said.

The personnel collected their pay cheques from the office and then went back to run their own businesses, they alleged. Due to non functional veterinary hospital and dispensaries, the livestock farmers have to take sick animals to private clinics, they regretted. They also alleged that almost all the animal health centres and hospitals across the province were in a shambles where staff remained mostly absent. They also demanded an enquiry into the matter.

When contacted, District Livestock Officer Dr Nawaz Malik said that he was recently posted as DLO, adding that his emphasis will be on improving per unit animal productivity and moving from subsistence to market oriented and then to commercial livestock farming in the area to meet the domestic demand and surplus for export. He said stern action will be taken against the negligent staff. He also assured them that all the veterinary hospital and centers will be made functional soon.