| Bye-bye chicken, welcome greens |
Guests at hotels and restaurants in the town are ordering fish or vegetarian dishes after the outbreak of avian flu last week.
While chicken is out of the question, price of mutton is soaring with Holi round the corner. The festival of colours is on March 27.
Santosh Nayak, the owner of Shree Nayak Hotel, said: “The outbreak of avian flu has hit business hard. While mutton is very expensive, the price of vegetables has also not gone down, as expected in March.”
Till last week, mutton could be purchased for Rs 300 a kilo. Now, it has gone up to Rs 350. The prices of vegetables, which are expected to take a downturn in March, have remained high. The only option is fish. A variety of fish is available in the price range of Rs 60 to Rs 400.
Bhatta Bazaar resident Rajiv Kumar said: “We have no option but to buy fish. We can’t have chicken because of the spread of bird flu. Mutton is too expensive.”
The soaring prices have forced some eateries, which specialised in chicken dishes, to close down.
Dipak, the owner of one such establishment, said: “Most of our customers prefer chicken dishes. We could offer a plate of rice and four pieces of chicken for Rs 50. We used to serve more than 400 customers everyday. But the spread of bird flu has forced us to take chicken off our menu. So, we have to serve mutton instead. The price of a plate of rice and two pieces of mutton is Rs 70. Most customers are unwilling to pay that. So we have been forced to shut shop.”
Besides restaurant owners, their customers and householders, poultry farmers in the district are also unhappy with the recent developments. “The compensation we are being provided for culling chicken is far less than their price. So we are incurring heavy loses,” said Chandrashekhar Mishra, a poultry farmer.
“A bird weighing 1.5kg is around Rs 120 but we are being paid only Rs 40 as compensation for culling these.” He added: “Most farmers are not only losing their profit but also their investments.”