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Bird Flu Culling above Target Level

by 5m Editor
24 February 2009, at 6:41am

INDIA - Culling poultry during the recent outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) progressed well but some believe that the new system to pay compensation to farmers on the spot may have led to abuses.

Culling figures in Barhamhar have exceeded the target set by the animal resources development (ARD) department that was going by the last poultry census, reports The Telegraph of Calcutta.

So far, the number of chicken and ducks culled stood at 37,840. Following the 2007 census, the culling target in a three-kilometre radius of Baramhar had been set at 32,000 poultry birds. Sources in the ARD said this time, unlike last year when bird flu spread from the state-run farm in Balurghat, the compensation was distributed on the spot, instead of giving poultry owners due-slips.

Sritanu Maity, the deputy director of ARD department in the district, said Rs15.38 lakh has been distributed to those who parted with their birds during the culling period. The distribution of this huge amount before the general elections has raised questions. The Trinamul Congress member of the zilla parishad, Akhil Barman, alleged that the figures had been inflated to distribute more money among the people. "If a house-to-house survey is conducted the real picture will emerge," he said.

Mr Barman said poultry had started to die on 11 February. "The culling began on 18 February, a week later. Most people owning chicken and ducks had shifted them to safer places. This is a fact, then how come so many birds were culled? More money has been distributed to buy voters," the zilla parishad member alleged.

For large ducks and chickens, the farmers were paid a compensation of 75 and 50 rupees (INR), respectively. For small ducks and chickens the figure stood at INR 35 and 30, respectively.

District magistrate, Ashok Kumar Majumdar, said he had received the culling figures from ARD department officials, although no one had come forward to object to the number shown.

"The mop-up operations that began yesterday will end this evening. After that, the teams will carry out the sanitisation process," the district magistrate told The Telegraph. He added that 26 teams comprising 200 people had been engaged in the culling.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.