Citing study on Haryana poultry farms, Rijiju bats for stricter laws

September 7, 2017

Chandigarh: Based on the report of National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) about inhuman practices being followed in poultry farms across Haryana and its impact on environment and human health, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju has written to the Union environment and law ministers to take necessary steps.

The institute, along with the representatives of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the Haryana Pollution Control Board (HPCB), had carried out the study of three big poultry farms in Sonipat district, three in Karnal and one in Gurgaon. Except for the Gurgaon poultry farm, the study found many discrepancies in the remaining six poultry farms.

Rijiju in his August 29 letter addressed to environment minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and minister of law and justice Ravi Shankar Prasad had requested for framing of rules for an end to battery cages in poultry industry and change in norms on transportation and housekeeping of egg-laying hens and broilers.

The institute has recommended that layered battery-cage system in poultry farms should be replaced with cage-free housings in a phased manner. The cage-free housing must be such that it allows the birds to stand up straight, stretch their wings fully and provide reasonable opportunity of movement.

The study also found the unregulated use of antibiotics in poultry farms, which poses a serious threat of antibiotic resistance and in turn affects the health of consumers. The institute has also pointed out that it is also apparent that arsenic is fed to hens and chickens to promote growth and weight gain with less feed. "The long-term exposure to arsenic above the recommended limit can cause cancer in the skin, lung, bladder and kidney. Growth hormones given to fowls is another issue related to the health of the consumers," says the report.

The report says that with the increase in demand and business competition, antibiotics appear to be an ideal and cost-effective way to increase the output of poultry. Despite directions to state animal husbandry departments and state drug controllers from their respective nodal ministries, it has been observed that the use of antibiotics in treatment of poultry and its feed is on the higher side.

"Besides oral consumption, antibiotic resistance may develop through extensive handling and transfer of birds. Such problem could be more prominent in broilers than egg-laying hens," reads the report.

The study has also recommended that farmers must check the toxicity of the excreta (mix of bird's excreta and liquid waste). It has also been found that poultry workers and local residents living in or around the vicinity of poultry farms are more prone to catch the bacterial and viral infections. Hence, it has been recommended that certain guidelines be framed to define the location of poultry farms.