Friday, May 11, 2007


Threats of Avian Flu prompt Department to take precautionary measures

GANGTOK, May 10: Chicken lovers may have to give up their favourite dishes for a while now.

The Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Service has banned the poultry birds and eggs coming in from outside of the State.

In the wake of out break of Avian Influenza in Bangladesh and reports of deaths of thousands of poultry birds in Siliguri the State Government, through a Notification, has completely bans entry of live poultry birds and eggs from outside the State with immediate effect as a precautionary measure till further order.

The Notification, dated 8 May 2007 and signed by the Principle Secretary of the Department, TW Barfungpa, has been pasted at all check-posts and entry points throughout the State.

Till yesterday, chicken was available in many small shops across the State. In Gangtok, most of the meat shops had already exhausted its stock of poultry by yesterday afternoon. Even eggs were difficult to get, with eggs were flying off the shelves even as the news of the bird flu scare was just trickling in. Meat sellers were desperately trying to get rid of the remaining stock of poultry and eggs.

Since most of the live poultry birds and eggs are supplied to the State from Siliguri, the bird flu scare has prompted the State Government to take this step.

Talking to SIKKIM EXPRESS, KC Bhutia, Joint Director AH/LF & VS Department said that in the wake of increasing number of poultry birds dying of Avian flu in the neighbouring Bangladesh, this step has been necessitated. “Most of the poultry birds come to West Bengal from Bangladesh borders and the recent reports of chicken deaths in Siliguri, the Government of India has sent notifications to all the Border States of the country to stop bringing chicken and eggs from Bangladesh,” he said. “Following the Central Government directives, we have also issued a notification banning all entry of poultry birds and eggs from Siliguri with immediate effect,” he said, adding that this was only a “precautionary measure for week or maximum 10 days”. Mr. Bhutia added that poultry farms in the State need not worry as there were no such threats here.

The temporary ban has affected the poultry business in the State. Small meat sellers are the most hit. “My entire stock of chicken has finished and there is no supply from Siliguri. My main business being chicken, I am facing hugn losses. I hope the ban will be lifted up soon,” lamented Pappu, a local meat sellers here in the Capital.

The bird flu scare has not however, deterred people from consuming chicken. The demand for local chicken has gone up over night, which prices also doubling. And most people seem oblivious of the ban or care little about bird flu threats. “I don’t think I will stop eating chicken,” summed up Rajesh. Demand has gone up for mutton and fish

The Bird Flu scare was sounded after some 5,000 poultry birds died in a private farm in Siliguri and its adjoining areas in the past four days.

Preliminary investigations have revealed the cause of death could be due to the less virulent Ranikhet disease or Gumboro disease, common in poultry birds and not Bird Flu. Another report suggest that the chicken at the Matigara farm may have even succumbed to heat and overcrowding. Investigations are still on. In the meanwhile, stick to your vegetables.