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Don?t kill these birds, they?re the minister?s

Poultry farms along the Pangaran belt are bracing themselves for the loss of 50,000 birds.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 03:40 IST

Thirteen kilometres from Navapur, as poultry farms along the Pangaran belt brace themselves for the loss of 50,000 birds, the keepers of a cluster of three farms close by are not worried. None of them will have their birds exterminated. All of them belong to Maharashtra’s transport minister, Surupsinh Naik.

Naik’s farms — Deepak, Akshay and Priyanka — have miraculously fallen just beyond the eight-kilometre radius around Navapur where birds in 49 farms will be culled, 16 of which had reported mortalities.

But although there were no bird deaths in the Pangaran belt, farms here will still lose birds. Aleef Poultry, for instance, lost 6,000 birds and 510 eggs to culling as Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh visited Nandurbar on Monday and stepped up the pressure on his administration to sterilise the area. Accompanying him was the transport minister, whose farms felt none of this heat even though they are just a couple of kilometres away from Aleef Poultry. The 29,000 birds in Naik’s farms were safe.

Animal Husbandry Commissioner Vijay Kumar told HT that farms within a 3 km radius around Navapur were “severely affected”, but the government would cull birds within 8 km to be doubly certain that the area was sterile. Aleef Poultry, where birds are being slaughtered, lies well outside this radius.

Two of the minister’s farms — Akshay and Deepak — were padlocked on Monday. Akshay is managed by Naik’s eldest son Anandrao, who declined to speak to HT. At the third farm, Priyanka, it was business as usual — almost. There were rows of cackling chicks. There were crates of eggs lined up waiting for the weekly pick-up that takes them to markets in Gujarat and Maharashtra (the last trucks left four days ago). But there were also farm hands wearing masks, which is rare even in the farms that have been listed for culling.

Dilip, the caretaker at Priyanka Poultry Farm, explained that a doctor from Pune had visited recently and advised masks for the 25 hands on Naik’s farms. But no one from the animal husbandry department had paid a visit. And no vaccination had taken place.

Instead, the farm had taken its own measures, spraying a disinfectant on the periphery of the sheds. “We bought this pump last week and use it to spray around the sheds,” said Dilip. “Other than that we just give them the medicines we normally give them. They have not been given any special medicines or injections.”

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 01:54 IST