19 Prominent Parsi Doctors Don’t Support Aviary Project


by Dr. Homi Dhalla (Appeared in Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly dated February 9, 2014)

The Aviary Project which was being planned for over two years was to be financed by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP).  The BPP Review of September and October 2012 furnished details about this project.  Arising out of this, a number of thorny questions arose, many of which were not answered at all by the advocates of this project.  Two Dasturjis also expressed their negative views in the media.

According to the project report, the doctors were expected to shoulder a major responsibility in ensuring that diclofenac is not prescribed to patients, in order to prevent vulture mortality.  At the Doongerwadi Advisory Committee where the Aviary Project was discussed, I had suggested that a panel of doctors be appointed to decide whether this project is implementable, but this suggestion was ignored.  Now, 19 prominent Parsi doctors have written to the Trustees of the BPP, making it very clear that they shall not participate in this project.

Out of these doctors, 14 are Consulting Surgeons while 5 are Consulting Physicians.  Kudos to Dr. Jehanbux Chichgar who has taken the initiative in this matter.  The original letter signed by the 19 doctors has been delivered to the Trustees of the BPP.  I have been authorized by Dr. Chichgar to release the letter addressed by the doctors to the Press for the information of the community.  Their letter is produced below:

Dr. Jehanbux A. Chichgar, MotabhoyMansion, 130, Maharshi Karve Road, Mumbai – 400020

February 4, 2014

The Trustees,

The Bombay Parsi Punchayet,



Dear Lady Trustees & Gentlemen,

Re: Aviary Project

We have carefully perused the articles regarding the aviary project which have appeared in the BPP Review of September & October 2012.  In order to critically evaluate this project, it has been imperative to also examine the views of the critics of this project.  The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will be actually implementing this project as it has years of experience in vulture breeding.  The reports state that basically it is diclofenac that has been responsible for vulture mortality in the country.

The BPP Review of September 2012 (p.14) states that “A continuous watch and an aggressive educational campaign within the community will have to be promoted and maintained in order to dissuade the Parsi Irani patients and the doctors from taking or prescribing any drug harmful to the vulture population such as Ketoprofen and / or aceclofenac that bio-transforms or metabolizes to diclofenac…”  From the above, it is quite obvious that doctors have a significant role to play in the successful implementation of this project.  After an objective evaluation, these are our observations:

  1. As there are 1051 combinations of diclofenac, it would be an extremely difficult task to ascertain whether drugs which are to be prescribed to critically ill patients in an emergency contain diclofenac or not.  Besides this, it is imperative to note that 0.004-0.16 ug g of diclofenac in a corpse would cause vulture mortality.
  2. It is further disconcerting to note that experts in this field, through their research papers have stated that there are also other drugs which would lead to vulture mortality.  These drugs are carprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, paracetamol, meglumide, metamizole, naproxen, phenylbutazone, analgin, nimesulide, flunixin and ibuprofen.
  3. Besides this, The Project Proposal prepared by BNHS (BPP Review October 2012, p.23) states that 72 hours before death diclofenac should not be given to the patient.  Moreover, relatives of the deceased would be required to make a ‘Statement’ that three days prior to death, diclofenac was not administered to the patient.  In this context, it is impossible to predetermine the precise day on which a patient would die.  Moreover, how reliable would a ‘Statement’ from a relative be?

Objectively evaluating this project, we conclude that doctors would be required to shoulder a heavy responsibility in the implementation of this project.  After carefully considering various factors, we are of the opinion that at the practical level, we would not take the responsibility of being involved in the implementation of this project.

Yours sincerely,

sd. Dr. Jehanbux A. Chichgar MD Sr. Consultant Physician & 18 other doctors

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