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Chicken could vanish from Delhi’s menus

If bird flu is traced in the Capital’s neighbouring states, you may soon have to forget about Chicken Tandoori and Butter Chicken completely, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

delhi Updated: Feb 01, 2008 02:28 IST
Avishek G Dastidar
Avishek G Dastidar
Hindustan Times

If bird flu is traced in the Capital’s neighbouring states, you may soon have to forget about Chicken Tandoori and Butter Chicken completely, simply because the city is hopelessly dependent on Haryana for its poultry every day.

Predictably, all hell broke loose during poultry trade across Delhi on Thursday after reports of chicken dying of avian flu in Haryana came in. For the next couple of days, hundreds of poultry traders in Delhi would wait with bated breath to find out whether samples of dead chicken from Haryana contained the deadly virus.

Ghazipur, the Capital’s biggest hub of poultry trade, was most affected on the news about Haryana’s dead chickens. The big traders started making frenetic calls to the Delhi Agricultural Marketing Board (DAMB) office for more information, while business houses began measuring potential losses in the days ahead.

Experts said that Delhi’s entire poultry trade would be severely hit if Haryana stopped supply to the Capital. “Delhi does not produce any broiler or layers (egg-laying chicken) and 80 per cent of the supply is from Haryana. The rest are from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh,” said Brahm Yadav, chairman, DAMB.

The Ghazipur wholesalers’ market gets around 1.5 lakh to 1.75 lakh chickens every day to supply to retailers across the city, according to official figures. A negligible part of that is generated in Delhi. Yadav said that it was a possibility that thousands of people could be out of business instantly. “There is nothing that we can do about it. Chicken may simply vanish from Delhi’s menus,” he said.

According to KC Gautam, secretary, Agriculture Produce Market Association (APMC) in Ghazipur, the scare of the flu itself could cause much damage. “After the scare, people would shun eating chicken even if there was no bird flu,” Gautam said.

So, why Delhi does not have its own production: Poultry farms need reasonably large areas to operate and the cost of business space, especially land, is sky high in the city, said Mohammad Umar Puppi, president of Ghazipur’s Indian Poultry Association.

How to be safe?

“Nowadays people know that a thoroughly boiled chicken is safe,” said Dr RK Rana, regional sales manager of Venkey’s Chicken Ltd Delhi. According to experts, an egg boiled for twenty minutes is safe from any virus. “Also, meat remains in boiling-point temperature in most Indian-style cooking. So, I think Indians are safe,” he said.