Poultry farmers in trouble due to bird flu outbreak in Himachal’s Pong Dam

Hindustan Times, Dharamshala | By, Dharamshala
Jan 06, 2021 09:49 PM IST

The origin of the virus is yet to be ascertained.

Following the outbreak of bird flu which has caused the death of 3,000 migratory birds, the domestic poultry industry is seeing a massive crisis and is forcing the farmers to bankruptcy.

HT Image
HT Image

This has not only put the Kangra administration on tenterhooks but also triggered concern among poultry farmers as the demand for poultry products has dipped massively.

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Besides migratory birds, other local species, mainly crows, have been found dead in the Pong Lake Wetland area of the district. The origin of the virus is yet to be ascertained.

The first fatality among the migratory birds was reported on December 28. Among the infected birds, 90% are bar-headed geese, the world’s highest-flying birds that migrate from far-off Siberia and Mongolia.

So far, the virus has reportedly spread in the poultry in the adjoining area.


Kangra deputy commissioner Rakesh Kumar Prajapati said there is no way out to deal with the migration of birds.

“We can’t stop bird migration as it will continue till February end. Though, we can prevent the spread of the virus among the local human population as well as livestock,” said Prajapati.

The situation is under control as the virus largely has been found in migratory birds only but the administration is ready to deal with any eventuality, he added.

As a precautionary measure, the district authorities have sent more than 100 samples of poultry birds from different farms for testing.

Prajapati said if the virus is found in the poultry, culling activities would be carried out.

“We are awaiting the reports and have directed the farm owners to report any symptoms in poultry birds,” he said.

As of now, there is a complete ban on the sale and export of poultry products and fish in Dehra, Fatehpur, Jawali and Indora.

Activities like fishing and grazing are prohibited within the one-kilometer radius of the lake.


Meanwhile, the poultry industry is anticipating losses worth crores due to the outbreak.

“I have more than 40,000 chickens at my farm. If the virus spreads, culling would be carried out and that would mean losses worth lakhs of rupees,” said Pushp Barotia, a poultry farmer in Dehra.

He said the losses would run into crores for the industry in the state. He said the demand for poultry products is already declined after the outbreak.

The farm owners have demanded compensation on the analogy of Kerala if culling is done.

Not only them, but fishermen dependent on Pong Lake also fear the loss of livelihood.

“We can’t do fishing until the situation is under control. How will I feed my family?” said Roop Chand, a local fisherman.

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    Naresh K Thakur is a staff reporter in Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. Based at Dharamshala, he covers Tibetan affairs, local politics and environmental issues.

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