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Amid Covid pandemic, African Swine Fever sets foot in Tripura from Mizoram



Agartala/Aizawl, Sep 22: Even as the Northeast is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, a few states are also witnessing an outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF). After Mizoram witnessed the ASF outbreak, now cases have been reported in Tripura where a large number of pigs have died in a government farm in Kanchanpur, officials said on Wednesday.

When Mizoram was severely battling with Covid-19 pandemic, the ASF since March this year has killed over 28,000 pigs in all the 11 districts of Mizoram, which shares borders with Tripura, Assam, Manipur besides Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Animal disease expert Mrinal Dutta told that the outbreak of ASF in limited spheres had been reported earlier this year in most of the Northeastern states, including Assam and Meghalaya besides neighbouring countries Myanmar and Bhutan.

Tripura’s Animal Resources Development Department (ARDD) Director K. Sasikumar said some samples of ASF-hit pigs tested positive in the Guwahati based North Eastern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. He said that so far 160 pigs have died at the government run Exotic Pig Breeding Farm in Kanchanpur and the ASF not yet spread in the adjoining villages due to the strict surveillance of the department officials and doctors.

“A team of veterinary doctors and experts are now camping in Kanchanpur (bordering Mizoram) and they in collaboration with the local officials and volunteers have so far culled 37 pigs and a maximum surveillance is being done to prevent the spread of the disease in the adjoining sub-divisions,” Sasikumar told.

He said that the infectious disease might have spread to northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur from adjoining Mizoram. The official said that the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009 has been enforced in Kanchanpur subdivision and all out preventive measures have been undertaken.

“Those people who violate the provisions of the act, he or they would be punished with imprisonment and fine. Transportation and trading of pigs to and from Kanchanpur have been banned,” the ARDD Director said.

In Mizoram, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary (AH & Vety) Department spokesman Hmingtea said that after the outbreak of the ASF in Mizoram in March this year so far over 28,000 pigs have died in all the 11 districts and over 11,000 pigs were culled.

The outbreak of the ASF has caused a financial loss to the tune of over Rs 230 crore so far, the official told, adding that in a few of the district’s the disease is under control and in some districts it is still prevailing.

He said that in mid-March, the first pig death was detected at Lungsen village in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district. The villagers had reported that the pigs were imported from adjoining Bangladesh.

When the samples of the dead pigs were sent to the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, it was confirmed that the pigs died due to ASF.

According to the officials of the AH & Vety, the ASF outbreak has been reported in at least 250 villages in all the 11 districts across the state.

According to experts, the outbreak may have been caused by pigs or pork imported from neighbouring Myanmar, Bangladesh and the adjoining state of Meghalaya.

The Northeast region’s annual pork business is worth around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore, with Assam being the largest supplier. Pork is one of the most common and popular meats consumed by the tribals and non-tribals in the region.

According to some experts, humans don’t get infected by ASF, which was first detected in 1921 in Kenya. However, they could be the carriers of the virus.

No vaccine is available for the virus till date.

Outbreaks of various diseases, including ASF and foot-and-mouth disease among animals, mostly livestock, occur in different states of the Northeastern region almost every year.

After the outbreak, the Northeastern states have sounded high alert and asked people, especially owners of piggeries, to refrain from bringing pigs and piglets from other states and neighbouring countries, specially from Myanmar.

The Central government’s advisory said that ASF is a highly contagious disease of pigs — both domestic and wild and the mortality range may be as high as 100 per cent.

“As the disease is already prevalent in China, and India has long borders with China, Myanmar and Nepal, therefore, the bordering Indian states need to remain alert on the movement of live pigs and pork products in to their territory. In this regard, the people in the border areas, especially in the Northeast, require to be adequately sensitized,” the advisory said.

The outbreaks of various diseases including ASF, Foot-and-Mouth among the animals, mostly livestock, have occurred in different states of the northeast region almost every year.

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North East

CPIM veteran Bijan Dhar passes away  



Agartala: Tripura Left Front convenor Bijan Dhar breathed his last morning at a private hospital in Kolkata on Monday.

Dhar, was airlifted to Kolkata after his health deteriorated while undergoing treatment at GB hospital in Agartala.

Earlier, CPIM state secretary Gautam Das succumbed to COVID-19 after fighting for almost a month.

Dhar was the former CPIM state secretary and was appointed as Left Front convenor after the 2018 assembly election defeat.

Dhar was on ventilation for almost two weeks and his health condition was stable. However, in the last 48 hours his health condition deteriorated and he breathed his last in the wee hours on Monday.

The CPIM leaders are preparing to bring his mortal remains to Agartala by an evening fight later today.

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees



Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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North East

Security tightened up as pandals go open for hoppers



Agartala: The festive spirit is visible in the major markets and city malls as prime city roads were found to be flooded with people out either for Pandal hopping or shopping. Moreover, security arrangements had also been tightened up along with enforcement of strict traffic guidelines to avoid unnecessary congestion in the times of Puja.

A good number of TSR and Police Jawans would be pressed into action for hassle free passage of the Puja days. In the meantime, adequate measures are also being taken to hold the Covid 19 at bay as apprehensions of a possible third wave is still running thick and fast in medical circles.

Like previous years, Agartala city is again the centre of attraction with big marquees and adorable lighting works. But this year, the Puja organisers have kept their whole focus on crowd management and erected the pandals in a way that the idol could be sighted from faraway places.

“We have put in place all the precautionary measures to ensure that no unscientific gathering takes place inside or at the premises of the Puja compound. Good numbers of volunteers, who have been trained about the whole situation of Covid 19, are engaged to maintain the Crowd. We pray that Maa Durga bless the whole mankind with a protective shield against this virus (Covid)”, said Sanjay Saha, Secretary of Puja committee Netaji Play Forum Centre, one of the prominent big-ticket Puja organisers of Agartala City.

On the security front, West Tripura superintendent of police Manik Das said, “we have taken ample steps to extend a full-proof blanket of security all over the district. We have separated our security in two parts, one for urban areas where most of the Pujas are being organized and the other one is for the rural areas. Watchtowers, CCTVs and police assistance booths will be opened for the Puja days so that in some sort of emergency police can take swift action”.

A total of 2,176 Pujas are being organized in the state out of what Agartala city accounts for 554 Pujas alone. Altogether 865 Pujas are being held in urban areas while 1311 Pujas are being observed in the areas that come under police stations located in rural parts. For better security, 157 police assistance booths will be opened all over the state with a lion’s share of it—50 being set up in Agartala city only.

To ramp up surveillance, 98 watch towers have been already installed across the length and breadth of the state with 78 CCTV smart cameras in the city only that will assist the existing CCTV network built under Agartala Smart City mission. The police department has carefully chosen the location keeping in mind the areas that draw massive crowds on festive occasions.

Apart from that, 7,660 uniformed personnel would be pressed into duty that accounts for a total of 4,242 TSR personnel and 3,418 police personnel in total. Total 08 platoons of CRPF have been also deployed under the limits of eight select police stations.
As a part of the Covid 19 precautions, thermal scanning will be arranged in the Puja pandals to isolate and trace symptomatic people who could be susceptible to the infection.

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