In the three days since a control room was set up by the Chandigarh administration for queries related to bird flu, more than 1,000 calls have poured in. But, more than any panic emanating from a dead goose at Sukhna Lake testing positive for the flu, the helpline has become a platform to settle scores with neighbours.
The helpline — 93575-26960 — continues to ring even past midnight.
One such crank caller informed the control room staff that his neighbour had a pesky parrot: “You have culled the ducks so you must know the way to eliminate the parrot. The parrot keeps disturbing us. Can you kill it, too, please?”
Another called about hens kept by his neighbour: “They keep roaming around and are a nuisance. Can we get them killed during this scare of avian flu?”
The officials asked the residents not to use the flu scare to kill innocent birds.
Five members of a family called at least 10 times in 15 minutes saying that they had discovered a dead bird on their terrace. Then another call said the bird had managed to fly away, since it was not dead!
In another case, a pregnant woman called and asked if her baby would be affected as she was staying near a poultry farm. Another man called saying that he had been suffering from cough for the past two years.
Dr Lovelesh Kant Gupta, joint director of the UT animal husbandry department, said, “We have set up the control room only to pacify residents and address their doubts. We have been receiving several calls and residents have been asking whether or not they should eat chicken, and other such things.”
Even as the mobile number is working, a landline control room number flashed by the administration was non-functional; calls to 0172-270092 said the number “does not exist”. The correct number is 0172-2700092, HT has been told.
Meanwhile, some police personnel deployed around the lake complained of headache, but Dr Gupta said it was only because of the extreme cold and they should use caps or mufflers.