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Birds culled above target

Raiganj, June 1: The number of poultry culled in the flu-struck Hemtabad block of North Dinajpur has far outstripped the target set by the district administration as villagers from outside the culling zone brought in birds for fear of the infection spreading.

District magistrate Ramanuj Chakrabarty said after the disease was confirmed by a Calcutta laboratory on May 27, a three-kilometre radius was marked for culling with the centre at Kantore village, 17km from here.

“To begin with, we had targeted 14,000 birds and on the first two days—starting May 28—only 10,000 could be disposed of. We then decided that two more days would be required to complete the procedure,” the district magistrate said.

However, at the end of the fourth day yesterday, the number of birds culled stood at 22,000, far more than the target set. “Since this had never happened before, we started making inquiries and found out that there were two poultry farms with a total of about 3.000 broiler chicken besides a large number of villagers just outside the culling zone. They too came forward with their poultry,” Chakrabarty said.

Ratan Barman, a resident of Kamlabari, said he along with people of his village had on Saturday spotted culling teams in the adjacent village. “That was how we came to know that there was an outbreak of bird flu next door. We feared that our poultry too could get infected from there and so decided to give up our birds,” he said.

Barman said hundreds of villagers deposited their birds with people residing within the culling zone on Saturday night. “We will recover the money from the persons who decided to keep our poultry for culling when the payment is made,” he added.

Earlier, the district administration was concerned about the slow rate of culling. The animal resources development department staff attributed it to information not reaching the villagers in affected areas and lack of awareness.

In fact, on May 28, several culling teams had been turned back and even stoned by villagers who had no knowledge about the outbreak.

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