Culling of birds not feasible, Haryana tells Centre

Geetanjali Gayatri

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18

To save around 20 lakh poultry birds at Barwala farms in Panchkula district where four more suspected bird flu cases surfaced earlier this month, the Haryana Government has decided to form a committee to suggest alternatives to culling. It has also sought clarification from the Centre on the guidelines in this regard.

Sources in the Animal Husbandry Department say the committee will suggest alternatives so that the virus can be contained and the poultry farmers will not have to face loss if their stock is not infected.

“The toll is way below the average deaths due to bird flu. We need more clarity on the guidelines that say all birds within 1 km radius need to be culled,” Animal Husbandry Minister JP Dalal said.

“While culling will begin at farms where even a bird tests positive, our teams will take samples from other farms. We will wait for the Centre’s response and proceed accordingly,” Dalal said.

He said in the absence of any alternative, the department’s entire staff would have to be put on duty for months to cull 20 lakh birds after confirmation of positive test from the Bhopal lab.

Maintaining that culling is “impractical” given the number of birds involved, Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Raja Shekhar Vundru said: “We will consider re-sampling at farms where birds have tested positive. We have received representations from the poultry association which suggested creation of containment zones. The suggestion has been forwarded to the Centre.”

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