–Livestock dept’s Veterinary Research Institute, Foot & Mouth Disease Research Centre establishment project falls behind schedule
–DGM&E says physical progress on project lesser than financial progress; issues recommendations for on-time completion
LAHORE: Due to the slow pace of work and negligent attitude of the officials concerned, Punjab Livestock & Dairy Development (PL&DD) Department’s “Establishment of State-of-the-Art Labs at Veterinary Research Institute and Foot & Mouth Disease Research Centre to Meet the International Standards of Biologics Production, Research and Development” project is way behind schedule.
As per the details, the project was started in December 2017 and was planned to be up and running by June 2019. The objectives of the project were to enhance the vaccine production for mass vaccination of livestock (50 million) and rural poultry (12 million) against Black Quarter (BQ), Enterotoxaemia (ET), Pes des Petites Ruminant (PPR), Pleuropneumonia (PP), Newcastle Disease (ND) and Avian Influenza diseases.
Among other objectives of the project were to conduct national and international training of more than 20 scientists in deficient areas to meet the international standards of biological production and research. It was also aimed at starting molecular investigations of field strains of FMD, HS, ETV, PPR, Mycoplasma, Brucella, ND and Avian Influenza.
As part of the project, Veterinary Research Institute (VRI), as well as Foot and Mouth Disease Research Center (FMDRC), were to also be established in Lahore. However, according to a report of the Directorate General Monitoring and Evaluation (DGM&E), the project is nowhere near completion.
“The renovation of different sections at VRI is underway while the physical progress of renovation at the institute is almost 55 per cent,” the report said and added that renovation of the Foot and Mouth Disease Research Centre, on the other hand, has not even been started yet.
According to the report, expensive equipment was bought for the project, however, there was no labelling on the purchased equipment worth millions of rupees, causing ambiguity among the M&E bought in other schemes as well.
“It was observed that Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Eggs were not used in vaccine production. Out of 20 training, three were conducted in 2018 while only a single training was conducted in 2017. Procurement documents are incomplete with no provision of newspaper advertisements, comparative statements (financial & physical) and uploading of documents on the PPRA website.”
The report further said that data related to the production of vaccines was not provided by the department. “No data related to the production of FMD vaccines was found with the department neither there was any target for the prevention of livestock. Physical progress on the project is lesser than financial progress and the project is falling behind schedule due to the slow pace of work.”
The DGM&E also suggested PL&DD to enhance the machinery, manpower and material at site besides adapting fast-tracking or buffering techniques to complete the project.
“Resources need to be increased in order to achieve the project objectives on schedule. The lab equipment and machinery bought in the scheme is worth millions of rupees and must be tagged/labelled with some valid bar code system to avoid ambiguity as other schemes also have components of M&E in their relative plans. SPF eggs should be used in vaccine production to ensure quality. Record keeping related to procurement documents must be appropriate. The department must update the data of vaccines that are being produced according to the set targets for the livestock population. The number of FMD vaccine doses must also be increased in order to meet the demands of cattle and buffalo population,” the DG&ME further suggested the department in its report.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, VRI Director General Dr Muhammad Iqbal said they had a Rs100 million budget for the project but had only received Rs50 million. “We have for now completed two-thirds of work and are trying to get the project up and running soon,” he added.