Photos showing thousands of dead cattle dumped in a ground outside Rajasthan's Bikaner have appeared online. The posts claim the cows died due to lumpy skin disease caused by the lumpy virus, but the district administration has denied this. The photos have been carried by various news outlets, which claim that more than 250 cows are dying every day in Bikaner because of the disease. But the district administration has called these reports "misleading". Lumpy virus leads to a skin disease that affects the cattle. It is transmitted by some flies and mosquitoes, or ticks.
"This area is a demarcated zone to dispose of dead animals. The carcass of animals that die within the city limits is brought here, the skin is removed and the skeleton is left to dry. The contractor later picks up these bones to sell in the market. Almost 1,000 animal carcasses are always found here. This is the photo that is being circulated," Bikaner district collector Bhagwati Prasad Kalal said.
The district collector said the ground where the photo has been clicked is a protected area for vultures.
"The animals that die due to lumpy virus are not brought here. We have designated different areas for such carcasses. Those animals are buried under ground," said Mr Kalal.
The stench has affected an area of 5 square kilometres.
According to official figures released by Rajasthan government, the lumpy skin disease has affected 10,04,943 animals across the state. Out of these, 84,369 are in Bikaner. The state government further said that the disease killed 2,573 cattle in the city.
Due to the spread of lumpy skin disease in Rajasthan, neighbouring Madhya Pradesh has banned the import of animals from Rajasthan. The decision was taken after two cows in the Depalpur village of Madhya Pradesh's Indore district were found infected with the Lumpy virus.
On August 10, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar launched a vaccine called Lumpi-ProVac to protect livestock from the Lumpy skin disease.
The vaccine has been developed by the National Equine Research Center, Hisar (Haryana) in collaboration with the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izzatnagar (Bareilly).