With reports of bird flu spreading in West Bengal, the government has decided to start culling operation, without waiting for the confirmation of the virus, in areas where a large number of birds have died.
"Because it is spreading in nearby districts (in West Bengal), we have decided that we are not going to wait for Bhopal (High Security Animal Disease Laboratory) report," Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar said on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi on Saturday.
Pawar said the culling operation would be launched in areas reporting high casualty among poultry without waiting for the confirmation of bird flu.
He pointed out that as per rules, unless a sample is confirmed positive by the Bhopal lab, culling operations could not begin.
"If deaths of poultry birds are happening in high numbers, we have to start culling operation, maybe on mass scale, in that particular belt," he added.
The minister said that a request has been made to the Home Ministry to alert Border Security Force to keep a close watch on the movement of birds from Bangladesh.
"The movement must be stopped within, more importantly from Bangladesh border," he emphasised.
When asked about his reaction to the West Bengal chief minister's remarks that the situation was alarming, Pawar said: "I am saying the same thing." He, however, expressed confidence that the virus would be restricted to certain parts of West Bengal only.
"There is no need to panic. It (bird flu) will not affect other areas," he added.