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Bird flu heads for Kolkata

Poultry birds in Kolkata may get infected in a day or two with the dreaded Avian Flu virus, reports HT Correspondent.

kolkata Updated: Jan 25, 2008 02:27 IST
HT Correspondent

Poultries in and around Kolkata could be the next destination of the dreaded H5N1 virus.

Though the state animal resource development department minister, Anisur Rahman, at Writers’ Buildings, on Thursday, termed the city as “safe” zone, he has not ruled out the chances of getting poultry birds in and around the city infected in a day or two with the dreaded Avian Flu virus. “The movements of migratory birds are not under our control, neither the Alipore Zoo authority could take any preventive measures in this regard. All we can do is to keep close watch on the movements of these birds,” the state animal resource development department minister said.

According to principal secretary, state animal resource development department, Dilip Chakraborty, the department is working in close coordination with the forest and health department so that Zoological Garden official could report the government if there is any unnatural death of a migratory bird in Alipore Zoo. “The problem is that these migratory birds do not stay at one place for longer time. We don’t even know from where they are coming. There are lots of birds in the zoo and poultries in and around the city that could get infected if any migratory bird carries the germ of this dreaded virus from the infected zone,” Chakraborty added.

Despite the fact that both the state government and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) are keeping constant surveillance on the local poultry markets, issuing a blanket ban on the sale of chicken from backyard firms in the city, both the principal secretary and the minister admit their helplessness in controlling this. “We have to depend on the KMC in this regard. Only KMC could keep a constant watch so that no one could sale chicken from the backyard firms along with the poultry chickens. We have already sealed the entry points, its now the KMC to keep this city free from this virus,” Rahman said.

The state Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, on the other hand, held a high-level meeting with the state animal resource development minister, principal secretary, additional chief secretary, home, Prasad Ranjan Ray so that culling of poultry birds in the affected areas could get completed within a day or two. The Chief Minister, on Thursday, announced an additional grant of Rs 8.25 crore from the state ex-chequer for carrying out the culling operation as fast as possible. The Union Government would be sending another Rs 8.25 crores in a day or two.

“The Chief Minister is holding regular teleconferences with the Union Agriculture and Food Supply Minister, Sharad Pawar in this regard. The Avian Flu disease has proved more costly in West Bengal than Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh as it attacked only the poultry birds there, while it happened in the case of backyard firms in Bengal. It was easier for those governments to carry out the culling exercise, while it is becoming tougher day by day for us as most of the villagers rear poultry birds at backyards like their own children. The culling exercise is taking more time in Bengal districts,” Rahman added.