Farmers lost over 7,000 milch animals in floods, say officials

PUNE : Over 7,000 milch animals are feared to have died in the recent floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts, as per preliminary surveys by the Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry. Commissionerate officials have, with the help of animal welfare trust RESQ, undertaken the task of assessing the loss of livestock.

The toll is, however, expected to rise as the floodwater recedes and officers of the department are able to assess the situation in interior areas, which are still submerged.

Simultaneous flooding in Krishna and her tributaries over the last 10 days, due to heavy rain, has wrecked havoc in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur.

The first surveys reveal that 4,300 milch animals (cows and buffalos) in Sangli and 3,370 in neighbouring Kolhapur, and 50 oxen in both districts, died in the floods. Maharashtra has reported death of 8,252 milch animals and 242 oxen. According to the survey, 2,628 small ruminants (sheep/goat) have reportedly died in the floods.\The commissioner of Animal Husbandry department, Laxminarayan Mishar, said many officials have been deployed in the flood-hit areas. The process of estimating the toll of farm animals is, however, incomplete as several villages in the state remain cut off, and even rescue workers are unable to reach them.

Sugarcane farmers in Sangli and Kolhapur also keep animals and sell milk to the dairies in the region. Gokul — the Kolhapur District Cooperative Milk Union — reports collection of 12 lakh litres of milk per day, while the Chitale dairy in neighbouring Sangli district reports around 6 lakh litres of milk per day.

Availability of fodder and water round the year helps farmers maintain their animals and the near-constant milk supply allows dairies to pay better prices to farmers.

But in the last few days, after major roads were shut due to rising water levels, Gokul suspended its milk procurement and sales.

The state government has estimated that the commissionerate may have to pay an estimated compensation of Rs 26.60 crore to the farmers.

Officers of the department also fear the spread of infections such as hemorrhagic septicemia due to overexposure to cold water. Ample medicines have been made available to control the spread of the disease, which is contagious. Officials have also started supplying special chemicals needed to dispose of animal in these areas.