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Maulekhi warns against 'Emu' scams

Dehradun, Sept. 26 -- Gauri Maulekhi, Member Secretary, People for Animals Uttarakhand, and Co-opted Member, Animal Welfare Board of India, has in a letter to the Forest and Rural Development Commissioner, drawn attention to the fraud hit emu industry which is making its way to north India after having wrecked a large part of the animal husbandry economy of the south. Emu, a flightless Australian bird is at the centre of swelling fraudulent investment schemes in Tamil Nadu that have last been estimated to be at least worth Rs 500 crore.The birds are now being moved in large numbers to places like Uttarakhand, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bengal and Orissa. New investors are being drawn in to these schemes with the tried and tested model of 'get rich quick' promises. Regulators have been silent, so far, even after the scam emerged in Tamil Nadu in which several emu farm owners lost their money and the Chief Minister had to order culling of 12,500 emu birds after the farms were abandoned by owners owing to huge losses. In the absence of any regulatory action, emu farming is threatening to become a national investment scam, running into several thousand crores of rupees.In Uttarakhand alone, over 50,000 birds have been sold in the past six months, major farms being in Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar (Kashipur). Depending on age and size, a pair is available for between Rs 8,000 and Rs 24,000. In Tamil Nadu, the Emu ponzi scheme was in full swing and was later busted following government raids. In Uttarakhand, no such action has yet been taken by the government and the naive farmers are losing more money everyday without realising. There is no market for emu oil, emu meat or any other emu product in India. There is no consumption of emu meat to justify a business model. It is a ponzi where they first sell the chicks and when a new farmer comes in, the chicks are brought back from the old farmer and given to the new one.Even the claims on the Emu farm companies websites do not inspire confidence. According to one of them, buying 10 pairs of three-month-old emu birds will cost Rs 150,000. There is a cost of fencing Rs 35,000 (one-time) and a feed cost of Rs 1,20,000. When an interested customer comes to these farms, he is often promised that the farm would buy back Emus if he wants his money back.After the scam has been exposed in South India, 250 Emu farms located in the districts of Salem and Erode are in jeopardy. These farms have over 15,000 emu birds and these birds life also remains unanswered as the owners of these farms are either in jail or hiding.Even though it may be an exotic wild bird, but its meat still cannot be sold without licence from the Chief Wildlife Warden, Uttarakhand as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. No action has been taken in this regard by the Uttarakhand Forest Department.An animal can only be slaughtered in a registered slaughterhouse as per the Slaughterhouse Rules 2001, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. Since no slaughterhouse has been built or licensed to slaughter a bird as large and strong as an emu, it is slaughtered at farms in the most brutal manner. Needless to say, its handling is extremely difficult and may lead to serious injuries or mortality of the handler at times.Maulekhi has said that it's time for Uttarakhand to make stringent regulations so that people don't end up with thousands of emus on abandoned farms. She has urged that effective instructions be issued to the Animal Husbandry and the Forest Department to curb the mushrooming emu farms and to prepare for eventualities such as the southern states have had to face....

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