Experts to study cause of bird flu outbreak
Agartala: Worried at the frequent outbreak of bird flu and its effect on the poultry industry, the Tripura government has decided to urge the central government to send special expert-teams to study the sporadic resurfacing of the contagious disease, an official said here Saturday.
"Sporadic outbreak of bird flu has been badly affecting the poultry industry in the northeastern states, bordering Bangladesh, where avian influenza is rampant in many districts," Animal resources development department director Manoranjan Sarkar told IANS.
He said: "In view of the intermittent outbreak of bird flu influenza, the state government would soon request the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries under the union agriculture ministry to send special expert-teams to study the reasons of occasional resurfacing of the contagious disease."
Bird flu influenza has resurfaced in the state-owned Gandhigram Poultry Farm in western Tripura after one-and-a-half months, forcing the authorities to cull thousands of poultry birds, ducks and poultry products in the farm and in the adjacent four villages in a three km radius.
"In all 12 rapid response teams (RRT) have already begun culling of ducks and poultry birds at the farm, 20 km north of here and adjoining villages," said the official.
"The paramilitary Border Security Force has been alerted to prevent the entry of ducks and fowl from across the border," the official said.
The culling was initiated since Friday after the instruction of the central government department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) at Bhopal had earlier confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus in the affected birds of the Gandhigram Poultry Farm.
Over 6,200 poultry and ducks have been culled in last week of January in western Tripura after a bird flu outbreak at the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) farm at Lembuchara and in adjoining villages.
The Tripura government has been asking the central government to bear the entire cost of the compensation and other expenditure relating to bird flu.
The government of India shares cost of compensation on a 50:50 basis with the state governments - and has asked the state governments to utilise funds available with them under the programme of Assistance to States for Control of Animal Disease (ASCAD), a centrally sponsored scheme.
Four northeastern states - Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam - share a 1,880-km border with bird flu hit Bangladesh, where the contagious disease is rampant in many districts.
Even though India declared itself bird flu-free on December last year, Tripura and Meghalaya witnessed outbreak of the disease in January this year.
Authorities in East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya had culled 6,538 birds, while 9,157 eggs and more than 800 kg of feeds have been destroyed at Williamnagar and adjoining villages in fourth week of January.
Tripura had been affected by avian influenza since in April and May 2008, forcing authorities to cull over 250,000 poultry birds and ducks then.
The Tripura government in January had incurred an expense of Rs.15 lakh, that included payment of compensation to the affected poultry owners.
"In the ongoing culling and subsequent mopping operation, the state government has to spend another Rs.15 lakh to pay compensation to the poultry owners and farmers and to meet other expenditures. Such type of sudden spending affects the government exchequer," ARDD director said.