Amid brewing anger of farmers against the casual approach allegedly being adopted by the authorities to deal with the worsening situation, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday constituted a dedicated task force-one each in two provinces of Union Territory in wake of the outbreak of the lumpy skin disease (LSD) among cattle.

While scores of cattle, especially cows, have died in the Union Territory in general and Jammu province in particular due to lumpy skin disease.

"It's a good step but too late. Already this disease has gripped many parts of the J&K. Hundreds of cattle are already suffering from this viral disease resulting in a massive decline in milk production," Kulbhushan Khajuria, a dairy farmer of Jammu, told International Bussiness Times. He was of the opinion that authorities should start vaccination a month ago when the first case of this disease was detected in J&K.

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Scientists from agricultural universities head the task force

The task force will be headed by scientists from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences Technology (SKUAST) Jammu and Kashmir regions respectively along with other members from the Animal Husbandry departments to monitor the spread of the disease in real-time and suggest strategies for its control.

In addition, a notification was issued under Section 6 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act,2009 declaring nine districts of J&K as controlled areas for the Act. Subsequently, in pursuance of the notification, an order was issued imposing a complete ban on the import of bovine animals from outside the UT as well as the inter-district movement of these animals within the UT of J&K.

Vaccination started in a campaign mode

Vaccination drive against the LSD has started in a campaign mode in both the divisions and the susceptible population is being vaccinated in the form of ring vaccination around the respective epicentres on war footing to control the spread of disease, besides all biosecurity measures which include the use of fly repellents, fogging, isolation and treatment of affected animals are being adopted. District-level rapid response teams (RRTs) visit all the epicentres of infection for controlling its spread.

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The government claimed that the Agriculture Production Department (APD) is abreast of the situation in the UT and Additional Chief Secretary APD, Atal Dulloo is personally monitoring the evolving status daily.

Farmers are being advised to establish close liaison with Animal Husbandry Authorities and cooperate fully in control and immunization programs. APD Department started a dedicated helpline in 1962 to assist farmers in case of any eventuality related to the disease.

The sample for confirmation of LSD are being sent to NIHSAD, Bhopal on daily basis, however, two BSL-II Labs have been set up at Jammu & Srinagar to conduct the testing for LSD in J&K only which will start functioning within a week and surveillance of the disease shall be taken up in a large scale for controlling the disease.