Paltry compensation for culled birds sparks fresh cases of bird flu in West Bengal

May 11th, 2008 - 8:53 pm ICT by admin  

Sukna (West Bengal): While officials in West Bengal blame residents for the outbreak of the bird flu virus, resident complain that they are not being compensated enough for the culled birds.
Veterinary workers started culling thousands of backyard poultry to contain an outbreak of bird flu in the region, which has struggled to control the virus since January, but then they say that the residents are not cooperating.
“The response that we are getting is not good. People are still eating the chickens. The problem is that they are not earnest and they are lying. It is only when we tell them that the police raid them that they begin to cooperate,” said Samir Rai, Block Livestock Development Officer.
Around 300 birds mysteriously died last week in Sukna area near the bustling town of Siliguri, officials said.
But seemingly naive residents said that the compensation that is being provided to them is not enough and hence they refused to cooperate.
“It is our livelihood, how can we kill them? They pay us just Rs 50 per bird whereas in the market we fetch around Rs 120 per bird. This won’t work,” said Ajay Raut, a villager.
The State briefly contained the outbreak by culling more than four million birds in 14 of its 19 districts, but the virus has intermittently resurfaced.
Poultry sales in the state had fallen by about 70 per cent in the January-March period, but traders said they were still struggling to overcome losses.
After a massive culling operation, authorities in West Bengal said in February that bird flu was under control.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the situation in West Bengal as India’s worst bird flu outbreak in poultry. India’s first outbreak of H5N1 was reported in 2006.
India has so far not reported any human infections, but experts’ fear the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person, leading to a pandemic.
Since the virus resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, at least 241 people have died from bird flu in a dozen countries, the WHO says. (ANI)

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