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Dead birds in Raj Bhavan fuel flu scare

Bengal's bird flu scare has the Raj Bhavan aflutter as two birds with no external injuries were found dead on its premises, reports Subhendu Maiti.
By Subhendu Maiti | Hindustan Times, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 10, 2008 01:24 AM IST

Bengal's bird flu scare has the Raj Bhavan aflutter because two birds with no external injuries were found dead on its premises on Monday.

But like its tardy culling operations in the state, the animal resource development department has kept the governor's residence waiting for a report, five days after the dead birds were found.

Fed up with the lax approach, a senior official of the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday rang up the department's babus to ask what had been done to the samples. The department, realising then that the samples had come from the Raj Bhavan, immediately sent them to the Bhopal High Security Animal Disease Laboratory by air at a cost of Rs 35,000.

The Raj Bhavan contacted the animal resource department on Monday itself when the dead birds were found. Paramedics from the Belgachhia Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory rushed to Gopal Krishna Gandhi's official residence to collect the samples. The sample collection was done in 45 minutes and the Raj Bhavan told that it would soon be informed if the birds had died of avian influenza that has gripped the state.

But after the samples went to the laboratory, no tests were conducted for the next 24 hours. The preliminary tests are done at the Kolkata laboratory before being sent to Bhopal.

It was only after a senior official of the Raj Bhavan contacted the principal secretary Dilip Chakrabarty of the animal resource development department that the Kolkata laboratory stirred.

The samples finally went to Bhopal, but had the government acted fast, it could have sent these with a consignment of other samples that left for Bhopal early this week and saved the Rs 35,000 the state spent in sending them separately.

A senior official attached with the Kolkata laboratory said the samples tested negative for bird flu, a small relief to the Raj Bhavan, perhaps.

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