Four parks shut, govt says bird flu cases limited to a few areas
With bird flu confirmed in the national capital, the Delhi government’s animal husbandry department has advised government agencies to take precautionary measures at parks and water bodies in their jurisdictions. While more dead birds were found on Monday and samples were taken from various parts of the city for testing, no decision has been taken on the closure of parks as yet.
As on Monday evening, four parks — Sanjay Lake, Hastsal district park, Dwarka Sector 9 park (all maintained by the DDA) and the Central Park in Mayur Vihar Phase 2 (maintained by the East civic body) — were closed to the public.
Ten of the over 110 samples sent to various laboratories have tested positive for avian influenza on Monday morning. While eight came positive in the morning, two more positive reports reached by Monday evening.
A senior animal husbandry official said, “So far, the infection has been restricted to a few pockets. Therefore, there is no need to close all parks. We have asked agencies to close parks where samples have tested positive for bird flu.”
The eight samples that tested positive were the ones of dead crows and ducks picked up from Sanjay Lake park in Mayur Vihar Phase 2, Dwarka Sector 9 and Mayur Vihar Phase 3.
Government agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the three municipal corporations, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which are in charge of major parks and water bodies in the city said a majority of parks continue to remain open to public and they are closely monitoring the situation. As on Monday, only Sanjay Lake and Hastsal district park have been closed to the public.
After the government confirmed bird flu in the Capital, culling of live birds was initiated from 8am on Monday in Sanjay Lake Park in Mayur Vihar Phase 2. Culling in more areas will follow soon, one of the officials said.
The NDMC has restricted the entry of visitors near the duck corner at Lodhi Gardens, while at the seven biodiversity parks under the DDA, people have been advised to avoid going near the water body and birds.
“We are yet to decide whether to close parks. As of now, we have only restricted entry of visitors near the enclosed duck corner at the Lodhi Gardens and our veterinary doctor is monitoring the situation. The duck corner has been cordoned off and we have sprayed a lime solution in and around the enclosure to reduce chances of the virus infection. Nehru Park is open; however, public have been advised not to go near birds,” a senior NDMC official said, requesting anonymity.
The central public works department (CPWD), which maintains a few parks such as the Buddha Jayanti Park, said that it has not closed any of the parks as yet.
“The DDA district park in Dwarka’s Sector 9 was closed to the public after samples of two dead crows tested positive for avian influenza,” a senior DDA official said. With this, three DDA parks were shut, as on Monday evening.
Scientists at the DDA biodiversity parks said they are monitoring the health of migratory birds since December 28 and no carcass has been found so far. Teams have been formed in each biodiversity park to monitor the situation. “We have put up advisories near water bodies asking people to stay away, though no flu case or dead bird has been found in any of the parks,” said Faiyaz Khudsar, a scientist at the biodiversity parks.
He added, “We have a functional ecosystem which is very complex. Pathogens usually don’t survive in such a complex ecosystem. We have a lot of migratory birds and the situation is under control.”
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also maintains green spaces near heritage sites. On Sunday, six birds were found dead at the Red Fort and two at Jantar Mantar. A senior ASI official said, “We have not got any advisory from the Centre or the Delhi government on closing parks. The samples from Red Fort and Jantar Mantar have been sent for testing.”
Sunder Nursery, one of Delhi’s popular heritage parks, continues to remain open as no case has been found there. Ratish Nanda, CEO of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture that maintains the park, said, “We are actively monitoring birds in Nizamuddin-Sunder Nursery area on a real-time basis. At the slightest sign of trouble, we will take all required steps to safeguard visitors.”
At Naini lake in Model Town, a popular boating destination, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has asked visitors to not go near the duck enclosure.
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