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Deshmukh pulls up poultry chain

Venkateshwara Hatcheries, which have been vocal against the Bhopal laboratory?s finding of H5N1 strain at Navapur, have been slapped a notice.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 04:36 IST

Poultry major Venkateshwara Hatcheries, which have been vocal against the Bhopal laboratory’s finding of H5N1 strain at Navapur, have been slapped a notice under Section 139 of the Bombay Police Act and Section 188 of the IPC.

It has been asked to explain the treatment of birds and the health of the chicks supplied to Navapur. Venkateshwara holds 75 per cent stake in the supply of chicks and vaccines in the poultry industry nationwide.

Officials said the poultry firm needs to get a clean chit at this stage. Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was here to take stock of the situation, said district collector Jayant Gaikwad has already served the notice.

In keeping with WHO guidelines to cordon off a 3-km radius of the affected area, the chief minister conducted an aerial survey.

After a two-hour long meeting with senior officials at the district collector’s office here, the chief minister said Tuesday would be the last day of culling. So far 70,000 chicken have been culled in Maharashtra, 26,000 in Gujarat and another 1,800 will be culled in Gujarat on Tuesday “There will no extension in the period as we have decided to follow all WHO norms in letter and spirit,” the chief minister said.

This would mean that the government machinery, which managed to slaughter just 3,000 birds on the first day, is now faced with the impossible task of culling nearly 1.39 lakh birds.

The chief minister said while the state government has not come across any bird flu cases among humans, a 26-bed isolation ward has been set up at the Civil Hospital here to observe suspected cases.

Deshmukh also denied that the state government was seeking a second opinion on the Navapur bird deaths and stood by the Bhopal-based National Laboratory report.

Distancing himself from statements by animal husbandry minister Anees Ahmed that fresh samples would be send to a London lab, Deshmukh said his was the last word in the state. “I do not want to go into what Anees said on Monday, but bear in mind you are talking to the chief minister who has the final say,” the chief minister said. A stunned Ahmed gawked at Deshmukh.

Sources said Ahmed probably made the statement under pressure from farmers, who are refusing to buy the bird flu theory.

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 01:54 IST