Poll code hampers publicity drive plan

Call it a side effect of the Lok Sabha elections, especially the model code of conduct. The exclusive helpline for cattle farmers, launched in February on a pilot basis to provide medical services, counselling and information on various veterinary schemes, has evoked poor response.

The helpline, a first such initiative in the country, was launched by the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department in the four districts of Bangalore Rural, Mysore, Belgaum and Gulbarga on February 11. The service, launched under the Central scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, was to be extended to the entire State in May.

Two calls a day

According to sources, the helpline, which has 30 lines, has been getting an average of two calls a day. A veterinary expert associated with the project told The Hindu that the declaration of the elections and the implementation of the model code of conduct clashed with the schedule of a series of supportive measures that was supposed to have been taken for publicising the helpline, and attributed this as the main reason for the poor response.

‘Awareness lacking’

“The problems of dairy farmers are aplenty. But they don’t know that such a helpline exists to support them. We need to make efforts and create awareness among cattle farmers about the helpline,” he said.

According to him, various events were scheduled to be taken up till the end of March to create awareness among farmers about the service. But the declaration of the elections and the clamping of the code of conduct in March came in the way of initiating such supportive measures.

The department is expected to focus again on initiating supportive measures after the model code of conduct is lifted. The process of extending the project to the entire State, however, may have to be put off by a couple of months as the publicity exercise would take time, the expert said.

Call centre

The helpline (080-23417100) has been linked to a call centre in Bangalore that is managed by veterinary surgeons and trained technical staff.

The staff would not only provide information, but also transfer the calls to local officials and doctors if medical service is needed. Veterinarians would visit the house of the callerwithin 24 hours.

For the present, the helpline would confine to only counselling, grievance redressal and providing information related to various schemes as the system needs to be stabilised for providing medical services.

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