Avian flu scare: Delhi govt bans import of live birds, shuts some parks

Sanjay Lake, Hastsal Park, two other recreational gardens shut in Delhi

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 9

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday that his government was banning the import of live birds in Delhi---a development that comes as Delhi reported deaths of 34 birds over the last three days.

Kejriwal also said that Delhi’s Ghazipur poultry market will remain closed for 10 days.

“We have been receiving a lot of reports in Delhi about deaths of birds, especially crows, and it is concerning. So as a precaution we have decided to ban all live bird imports to Delhi,” Kejriwal said on Saturday. 

The Delhi chief minister announced a 24-hour government helpline (23890318) and said rapid response teams had been kept on standby in all districts. Besides, Delhi veterinary officials were conducting survey of markets, wild life establishments and water bodies. 

“Our officers have collected 104 samples so far and we have sent it to the Jalandhar lab for testing and we will take necessary action after receiving those results. And our district’s rapid response team is taking all necessary actions on the reports of bird deaths in the city,” he said. 

“We are expecting the results by Monday and like I said we will take all necessary action to contain this scare,” the Delhi chief minister. 

The announcement comes as Delhi government officials said at least 24 crows have been found dead at a district park in south Delhi's Jasola in the past three days and 10 ducks had died at the famous Sanjay Lake.

Delhi’s announcement comes a day after Punjab banned import of poultry meat into the state. Six states in India have so far confirmed the avian influenza---Haryana, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The flu scare also comes in the middle of the raging coronavirus pandemic.

 The DDA, which owns a large number of parks in the city, said authorities are monitoring the situation closely.

"The samples of ducks found dead have been taken by the veterinary department authorities to ascertain if the cause of death was bird flu or not," a senior DDA official said.

On the death of crows, the DDA has informed the Delhi government's forest department, he said.

"We are monitoring the situation very closely as DDA owns a large number of public parks many of which have water bodies," the official said.

Asked what steps the DDA authorities might take in view of the situation, he said all parks are open as of now.

"However, at places like Hauz Khas, which has a big lake, where a lot of birds flock to, security personnel are cautioning them to avoid visiting given the bird flu scare," the official said.

Other DDA parks include Coronation Park in Burari, Japanese Park in Rohini and various biodiversity parks.

Amid a bird flu scare, at least 35 crows have died in the national capital in the last few days and the samples have been sent to labs for testing, the officials had said on Friday.

An official of the animal husbandry unit had said around 50 birds, mostly crows, had died over the last three to four days in these three areas.

"We received information about the death of crows in Dwarka, Mayur Vihar Phase 3 and Hastsal village in west Delhi. However, it is yet to be ascertained if bird flu infection is the reason," Dr Rakesh Singh from the department had said.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had instructed officials on Friday to maintain a strict vigil on birds at major bird sites, especially poultry markets, water bodies, zoos and other potential hotspots.

On Friday, the Centre said bird flu has been confirmed so far in six states — Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.

Meawhile, three recreational parks and famous Sanjay Lake in Delhi were closed by authorities on Saturday amid an avian flu scare in the city as  several birds were found dead on their premises in the last couple of days, officials said.

Besides, the popular Hauz Khas Park in south Delhi, which is a huge water body and attracts a large number of crowd every day, has also been shut, they said.

The DDA, which owns a large number of parks in the city, said authorities are monitoring the situation closely, and parks are being disinfected.

An advisory has been issued on the closure of these four recreational places, a senior official said.

The Delhi Development Authority owns about 800 parks, other big parks being the Coronation Park in Burari, Japanese Park in Rohini and various biodiversity parks. --- With agencies

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