M A I N   N E W S

Culling begins
Bengal sounds alert

Kolkata/New Delhi, January 16
A general alert was today sounded across West Bengal following an outbreak of bird flu in Birbhum and South Dinajpur districts as culling of operations began in the two affected areas. Animal resources development minister Anisur Rahaman said culling operations had been taken up in the two districts.

He said 3.50 lakh birds in Birbhum and 26,000 in South Dinajpur would be culled.

As a precautionary measure, the state government has decided to ban sale of birds and disinfect the poultries. State home secretary P.R. Roy said there was no confirmation of spread of the disease to Murshidabad district, which neighbours Birbhum.

In Delhi, agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar said India has not received any advisory from the World Organisation of Animal Health to ban poultry exports. “So far, we have not received any advisory for export ban on our poultry products,” the minister said.

The Bengal government today sent 55 teams of the state Animal Resources Development Department to the 105 villages under Rampurhat blocks I and II of Birbhum district.

Rampurhat subdivisional officer P.K. Mondal said the teams would go house-to-house and visit the private poultries and collect the affected birds. More than 35,000 chickens have died in the past few days in Birbhum district alone.

This is the first time that bird flu has broken out in West Bengal.

Shillong: With West Bengal hit by bird flu, Northeastern states have sounded an alert and sealed borders to prevent entry of birds into the region. All NE states sharing borders either with Bangladesh or with West Bengal have alerted the borders to prevent entry of birds following instruction from the central government, official sources said. Meghalaya animal husbandry and veterinary director Dr D. Khonglah said checkpoints in the entire stretch of the 443 km of Bangla border have put on high alert. Quick response teams in the state have been conducting preparedness drills, while required aid and medicines are kept ready, Khonglah said.

The government of Meghalaya had set up 21 temporary check gates last year along the international border, and also constituted a rapid response team to keep a check on cross-border movement of poultry and poultry products.

Task forces, recently constituted in all the districts to monitor the situation, have been asked to remain vigilant as import of chicken and poultry products from the neighbouring country continues to remain banned.

Officials here said the BSF was also closely monitoring the border areas. The BSF has also issued instructions to its personnel in the border observation posts and camps not to eat chicken and poultry products. — PTI



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