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Parsis may have to stop using certain painkillers

Parsis in the city, particularly those who offer their dead to the vultures, may be asked to do away with some popular painkillers like Voveran, if their vulture breeding program is successful.

By Ashutosh Shukla | DNA

Feeding on dead bodies that contain traces ofDiclofenac and other drugs is largely blamed to have made vultures extinct in the city.

This reaching out will be done as a part of the aviary project or the satellite breeding centre that is being debated within the community since three months. The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) along with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is planning to have a satellite breeding centre

at the Doongerwadi (where the Parsi dead are laid to rest).

This will start after the main centre has been set up at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, for which BNHS is in talks with the forest department.

“The project will commence only after the high priests of the community, the doctors and the members are with us. The majority are with us as of now,” said Dinshaw Mehta, chairman of

the BPP.

While majority of the high priests have given a go ahead, some are apprehensive.

“How will you certify if a dead body has Diclofenac in it or not? You cannot do a biopsy or post mortem. Some people are talking about non-invasive methods like deep stick method, but that is still in the invention stage,” said Dasturji Khurshad Kotwal, a high priest who has opposed the project.

He added that ultimately they are trying to preserve the vultures and the community, particularly the traditional custom of disposing their dead.

Mehta said that asking doctors who treat Parsis to prescribe drugs that does not contain Diclofenac will help.

“Though the punchayet has spoken of having vulture breeding programs earlier too, it was always set aside. The present one is also an election gimmick as it is not feasible. Diclofenac has over 400 derivatives. Also, not all Parsis take drugs from the doctors they talk to,” said Dr. Homi Dhalla, who was instrumental in getting solar panels installed at the Doongerwadi, where the dead bodies are laid with no vultures to feed on them.

“Who knows when one dies?,” asked Mehernosh Fitter, an activist speaking about taking an affidavit from the family stating that the dead person had not taken any drug containing Diclofenac 72 hours before his death.

Khojeste Mistree, trustee of the punchayet said that they will go to the community and ask them to substitute Diclofenac with other drugs if there are no other alternatives.