The banned steroid tablets are used to artificially fatten cattle for sale at Eid haats
As Eid-ul-Azha approaches, the smuggling and sale of contraband steroid tablets is rising at an alarming rate, according to law enforcement officials and traders.
The artificial fattening of cattle by the use of the banned steroids is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh ahead of the second Eid, as a number of cattle traders strive to make undue profits from the sale of the sacrificial animals.
The use of the steroids not only makes the cattle unsafe for consumption, but also causes the animal significant suffering.
According to several pharmacies in Benapole, the owners of which asked to remain anonymous, banned steroid tablets are “selling like hotcakes” ahead of Eid.
One of the owners told Dhaka Tribune smugglers were bringing in Practin, Aclaec, Bacason Detja and Oradexon tablets, some of which are sold to Bangladesh as injectables.
Professor Md Akhtar-Uz-Zaman of the Department of Dairy and Poultry Science at Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University said steroid tablets usually start working within six hours of being fed to cattle.
Mentioning that the steroids are very harmful to both consumers and the cattle themselves, he said some of the sacrificial animals cannot even stand after being fattened artificially, due to severe pain.
Dr Hiresh Ranjan Bhowmik, director general of the Department of Livestock Services, said no Bangladeshi companies produce or distribute the banned steroid tablets.
Dr Md Ainul Haque, director of research, training and evolution of the Department of Livestock Services, said cattle fatten within two or three weeks of being fed the contraband steroid tablets, whereas it takes three to four months to fatten the animals naturally.
“The Bangladesh government has banned several steroid tablets, including Practin, as these are very harmful for health. These drugs cause liver failure, jaundice, hepatitis, and have other serious effects on humans,” he added.
He also said the steroid tablets hamper the urination system of cattle, causing severe pain as water accumulates under the skin of the animals.
According to the Animal Feed Act 2010, the lacing of animal feed with antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids or other harmful chemicals is prohibited.
Violation of the law may lead to a maximum jail term of one year, with or without a maximum fine of Tk50,000.
BGB Public Relations Officer Mohsin Reza said the BGB is on alert to prevent any smuggling.
Besides Benapole, the largest land port of the country, the Hili border areas are also used to smuggle these tablets into Bangladesh, according to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) sources.
Nayeb Subedar Md Shahajan, camp commander of Hili Mongla BOP camp of BGB, said several consignments of the tablets had recently been seized, as smugglers are trying to capitalize on the high demand.
“A team of BGB recently seized 29,850 of the banned tablets from the Hili border area,” he added, mentioning that the same team seized 32,000 Daxon tablets and 20,000 Practin tablets earlier on June 8.
The camp commander further said BGB has formed a five-member special team to prevent the smuggling of the banned tablets into Bangladesh ahead of Eid.
Furthermore, the Department of Livestock Service has issued a notice to district and upazila officials ordering to stop the use of these tablets, as well as form teams to raise awareness among cattle growers on the negative effects of the steroid tablets.
In addition, the department will also form medical teams to check the health of cattle at Eid haats across the country.