Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday described the bird flu outbreak in the state as "alarming", even as panic gripped Kolkata following death of some birds in the city.
Amid reports of slow pace of culling operations in Birbhum and South Dinajpur districts, the chief minister said the state government had set a target of culling four lakh poultry in the affected areas. The Rampurhat sub-division of Birbhum district was the worst affected, followed by Balurghat in West Dinajpur district, he said.
Bhattacharjee said it had been decided that poultry in the 5-10 km radius of the affected areas would be culled and the process would be completed within seven days.
Dead birds, crows and owls, were found in Kolkata's southern and eastern parts on Friday causing fresh fears as a civic team moved around the metropolis to collect bird carcasses.
"We will tell the state health department to assess whether the deaths are unusual," a Kolkata civic department official said. Shopkeepers had downed the shutters on Thursday following reports of death of caged birds.
The World Health Organisation had on Thursday warned that the outbreak of avian influenza in the state was far more serious than the pandemics in Manipur and Maharashtra.
The Centre admitted the outbreak of the deadly disease in West Bengal was on a wider scale than in those two states.
Rahman had said yesterday that bird flu had spread to Kirnahar in Birbhum and Barwan in Murshidabad district and there were reports of poultry deaths from Burdwan, Nadia and South 24 Parganas districts.
Culling operations continued for the third day on Friday at worst hit Rampurhat I, II and Murarai and other blocks of Birbhum district and in South Dinajpur district.
A report from Burdwan said reports of chicken deaths were reported from seven blocks in the district. While official sources put the figure at 2000, unofficial sources claimed that 10,000 chicken had died in the past seven days.
Preliminary investigation point to bird flu, district ARD sources said.
ARD assistant director Uday Bhanu Gangopadhyay said samples had been sent from Purbasthali and Mangalkote blocks were being sent for testing at Kolkata, which if needed would be sent to the High Security Diseases Hospital, Bhopal.