Live birds being burnt to battle bird flu in West Bengal

April 1st, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by admin  


Kolkata, April 1 (IANS) Officials are burning live birds in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district in a desperate bid to end a culling operation launched after avian flu resurfaced in the state, poultry farmers have said. Avian flu virus hit 13 of the 19 West Bengal districts in January. Two weeks ago, the flu resurfaced at English Bazaar in Malda district and at Raghunathganj and Jiaganj areas in Murshidabad, almost a month after the government claimed it had contained the virus.

The outbreak was also confirmed in Jalpaiguri March 27. The government set a target of culling around 40,000 birds in the district. A 40-member team began the culling operation March 29. This is to be completed by April 6.

West Bengal Animal Resource Development Minister Anisur Rehaman said: “At first the target was 48,000 birds. But that would have drastically cut down the number of poultry in the state. So we have brought down the target to 40,000.”

Rehaman added that culling was being done in a hygienic and systematic manner.

However, poultry breeders in Jalpaiguri alleged that live birds were being burnt by cullers because they were in a hurry to finish the operation.

Joydeep Nath, a poultry breeder, told IANS: “Instead of properly culling the birds, the cullers most of the time are putting live or half-culled chicks in their sacks and throwing them into the fire at the dumping yard. I have seen fluttering birds getting roasted in the fire.”

Nath also claimed that when he brought this to the notice of the cullers, they said that as long as the birds were being killed, nothing else mattered.

Another poultry farmer, Shambhu, said: “We raise the hens and ducks just like our children. They are snatching away even our healthy birds and not taking care while culling and burning them. On Sunday I saw four live hens being set on fire.”

One of the cullers, Santosh, told IANS: “This allegation is baseless. We take care to ensure that the birds are killed with minimum pain. We don’t burn them alive.”

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