The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rush to buy cheap chicken

Calcutta, Feb. 25: As chicken prices came crashing down across the city, people rushed to queue up at the nearest shop.

In parts of Salt Lake, Garia, Maniktala and Behala, the price of whole chicken varied from Rs 25-30 a kg, tempting many to shed their fear of bird flu and go on a buying spree.

Before the avian influenza struck Navapur in Maharashtra, chickens were priced around Rs 55 a kg.

The number of customers was, however, negligible in places like New Market, Gariahat and Lake Market.

'There has been a upward swing in certain markets but that can't be considered a trend. We need more support so that fears are allayed,' said P.K. Roy, the managing director of Arambagh Hatcheries.

The 'swing' has also brought a spring in the steps of the captains of the poultry industry, who have decided to hold a Chicken Festival.

While the blueprint of the festival is yet to be readied, industry insiders said it would be held on Monday evening on the sprawling campus of the Parish Church.

The gates will be thrown open to over 1,000 guests, including the ministers for animal resources development, urban development and health. The Tollywood brigade will also bat for the bird, digging into chicken delicacies.

'We plan to organise a competition on eating chicken and egg preparations and give away prizes. Besides filmstars, we also plan to have representatives from different fields, including novelists, senior police officers, sports personalities and politicians,' said T. Srinithi, the general manager of Venkateswara Hatcheries.

The state government, too, has stepped up efforts to dispel fears of bird flu.

A team of officers led by Jahar Lal Chakrabarty, the additional director of the animal resources development department, met some farm-owners in Sreerampur today, who have been feeling insecure in the wake of poultry deaths in their farms.

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