Believe it or not: Quarantine post reliant on an office assistant

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PATHARI, MORANG — An assistant at the Animal Quarantine Post, Biratnagar has been going about his work for the past five years with rather an unusual sense of humour.

Pashupati Khatiwada has a distinctive way of examining the birds and cattle that enter Nepal from India via the Biratnagar’s check post, which many may find idiosyncratic and unbelievable.

Believe it or not, Khatiwada examines the health of the inbound animals by smelling them and on this basis he hands out the certificate substantiating that the animal in question is healthy to be devoured.

It has been a tradition that the animal technician at the post, Pabitra Dahal, signs the certificate in advance and hands it over to Khatiwada, who in turn supplies the goats to the traders after filling up the rest of the document and without going through standard health tests.

Around 3000 cattle enter Nepal through the Biratnagar customs. The post has been turning its blind eye to the possible diseases borne by such cattle and certifying the good health of the animals with reliance on an office assistant.

The country’s legal provision requires the quarantine officials to monitor the animals for 14 days if they suspect a health problem. But as per the record, the quarantine post has not been found to have ever monitored the cattle.

A refrigerator, which should have had the stock of PPR vaccines that is administered to the ill animals, has remained out of operation for the past nine years.

Of the total of four refrigerators at the main office, three are defunct while one is being used by Office’s Chief, Fekanlal Sah, for private use at his residence. The office is responsible for examining the animals coming through Siraha’s Mardar and Bhantabari area and Biratnagar transit point.

Meanwhile Sah says the office has been facing problems due to lack of equipment. National Consumer Forum Morang’s Chairman Mohan Bhattarai says, “If those tasked with checking the health of animals do not work what is their relevance? They are misusing the state coffer by taking allowance and not working at the check post.” RSS