As many as 300 poultry birds were reported to have been culled by a poultry farmer after they showed symptoms of avian flu in Bengal's Jalpaiguri district on Friday.
The deaths were reported as the Centre planned to begin culling operations in four states bordering Bengal as a preventive measure.
In Kolkata, state Animal Resource Development (ARD) Minister Anisur Rahman and principal secretary Dilip Chakraborty did not confirm the report from Jalpaiguri, saying the district have not been affected by the H5N1 virus. An ARD official however said about 300 poultry birds had been killed in Baganbari village of Jalpaiguri district by the poultry owner. He said the owner culled all the birds and buried them without reporting it to the municipality.
"The incident came to light when the local Baganbari panchayat samity president, Lily Chakraborty, lodged an FIR against the local poultry owner at the police station," the official said. The principal secretary, however, said, “No such case was reported to the Jalpaiguri health department or the animal resource department officials there.”
In New Delhi, top health ministry officials said culling would be undertaken within five-kilometre radiuses of all the affected areas of Bengal. The move followed a high-level meeting between Union agriculture ministry and health ministry officials and officials from Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam.