Centre, Delhi take steps to check bird flu spread (Roundup)

New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) With reports of three more birds dying in the national capital, including one in Delhi zoo, both the Delhi and central governments on Wednesday geared up to contain further spread of avian flu.

The number of birds dying due to bird flu has reached close to 70 in the national capital.

The central government, in line with a request from the Delhi Animal Husbandry Minister Gopal Rai, announced on Wednesday formation of a committee to maintain constant vigil on the situation arising out of outbreak of bird flu.

According to an official announcement, the committee to monitor the bird flu situation will be headed by Joint Commissioner of Animal Husbandry Department and will have representatives from the Health Ministry, Environment Ministry and the Forest Ministry, apart from representatives of the Delhi government.

“Besides monitoring the situation, the committee will assist the state government in taking steps to contain the spread of avian influenza (H5N8),” the statement said.

All bird sanctuaries and areas where there are lakes have been advised to keep a close watch on the situation and in case of any suspicious death of birds, the state government and the Centre should be notified, the statement added.

On the other hand, the Delhi government told the Delhi High Court that the government has already taken all necessary steps to contain the avian influenza (bird flu) in the national capital.

During a hearing on a PIL in this regard, the Delhi government said as a precautionary measure, Delhi zoo was closed for public and vehicular movement on October 18. The zoo is being inspected daily for possible bird flu symptoms in the birds, and samples from various areas are being tested daily, it added.

“All the departments concerned have been sensitised about the issue and told to take all precautionary measures in their respective jurisdictions, especially in the forests, parks, ponds and other natural habitats of the birds,” the document submitted by the government in the court stated.

Civic bodies have also been directed to take care of sanitation near the wet poultry market, especially areas like Okhla, Walled City and around Seelampur, said the document.

Meanwhile, in view of the bird flu outbreak, the Sultanpur National Park authorities in Gurgaon are keeping a close watch on the movement of migratory and other birds, a park official said.

Located on Gurgaon-Farukhnagar Road, this park is home to around 250 species of birds, both resident and migratory. Birds come to the park from as far off as Europe, Siberia and Central Asia.

“We are keeping a close watch on the movement of avian guests to prevent an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1), commonly known as bird flu,” said Shyam Sunder Kaushik, District Forest Officer (Wildlife).

Thousands of different avian species from Russia, Europe, China, the Gulf and Siberia start flocking to Sultanpur during the winters.

“None of the birds have displayed symptoms of bird flu, so we have not taken blood samples or sent anything for testing,” added Kaushik.

–IANS

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