The medical education directorate has decided to open seven veterinary medical colleges Uttarakhand to cure shortage of veterinary doctors.
The dearth has become acute as more and more people are quitting agriculture to take up poultry and dairy farming, pushing up demand for doctors. Currently, only Pantnagar University offers 40 seats for veterinary course.
State minister of medical education Harak Singh Rawat told Hindustan Times: "Animal health is equally important like that of people. There's demand of veterinary doctors in the state and we have decided to open 7 colleges that will provide training to youngsters in this field."
Veterinary medical colleges are likely to come up at Gauchar (Chamoli), Kalsi (Dehradun), Champawat, Narendranagar (Tehri), Gangolihat (Pithoragarh), Khirsu (Pauri) and Jakholi (Rudraprayag).
According to the state department of animal husbandry, out of 294 positions of veterinarians, 140 are lying vacant. The vacant positions are at various levels, including animal husbandry directorate and other related offices. There are 313 veterinary hospitals in state, which are short of 53 doctors. Of 850 positions of livestock extension officers, 350 are vacant.
Animal husbandry department is supposed to provide 5 veterinary doctors to the state forest department, but due to lack of specialists there are only two working at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) and the Nainital zoo. Rajaji national Park (RNP) management too had demanded full-time veterinarian for their park about two years ago, but haven't got one yet.
Kamal Mehrotra, the director of animal husbandry department in Uttarakhand, said, "We have a shortage of doctors, there's no doubt about it. Our hospitals and dispensaries are running without skilled staff."
Medical education minister said the need for veterinarians has increased in past few years because of the changing trend in hills. People facing threat to agriculture farming because of wild animals are turning to dairy and poultry businesses, he said.