Slack action at Ground Zero
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Slack action at Ground Zero

On Sunday morning, Navapur - the epicenter of the avian flu outbreak - resembled a ghost town.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 02:36 IST

On Sunday morning, Navapur - the epicenter of the avian flu outbreak - resembled a ghost town. The village, 2 km away from the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and Nandurbar's poultry capital, was indifferent to the psychosis that the bird deaths had whipped up. It was business as usual.

However, the scene at the Circuit House was different. It resembled a war zone as government officials battled with the crisis. Animal husbandry minister Anees Ahemed said at least five lakh birds would be killed and few lakh vaccinated.

But reality bit at Ground Zero. Sixty teams, comprising vets and animal husbandry graduates, fanned across Navapur to kill and vaccinate birds. The result? Mass confusion. As the teams were from the neighbouring districts of Dhule, Jalgaon and Nasik, the hunt for the 49 infected poultry farms proved tricky. Once located, the teams spent the better part of the day convincing the poultry farms owners to grant them access. "We can't break in and the owners won't let us in," complained K.P. Bangade, a vet.

The animal husbandry department had instructed the teams to kill all birds within a 3-km radius of the nearest infected farm and vaccinate those within an additional 7-km radius. Ahmed said the vaccines had been specially imported from Holland. But when HT visited the farms, there was nothing to suggest that measures were in place.

But the government stood by its claim. At the end of the day, Ahmed said they had managed to kill around 20,000 birds.

The poultry farm owners had a different take. The government had apparently asked them to do the job themselves.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 02:24 IST