Amtali/Agartala (Tripura), Feb.14 : Owners and workers of poultry farms in remote parts of Tripura have appealed to the State Government to relax the ban on the sale of birds to ease the crisis their industry is facing in the wake of the bird flu outbreak.
Tripura is currently experiencing a severe scarcity of poultry products because of a government ban on poultry imports from neighbouring West Bengal and from Bangladesh.
The bird flu scare has gripped many Indian states, and has had its epicenter in West Bengal.
Nearly half of Bangladesh's 64 districts are reportedly affected by avian flu.
Through there is no report of the outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Tripura, the state authorities have decided not to take any chances.
"No birds, means poultry eggs, poultry products or may be the feeds even from Bangladesh and West Bengal should not enter Tripura. ccordingly we have requested all the check points as well as IG (inspector general) BSFBorder Security Force) that they should look into this aspect," said A. Roy Barman, director of Animal Resource Development Department.
Poultry farmers in Tripura's Amtali town have criticized the state government's decision.
"Because of this decision of the government, our poultry farms are now empty. The government could at least have allowed us to bring in poultry from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where there is no bird flu outbreak," said Jahar Shaw, a poultry farmer.
The World Health Organisation has described the rapid spread of bird flu in West Bengal as the most serious outbreak yet in India, which has four times detected H5N1 but which has not reported any human infections.
West Bengal authorities say that the bird flu situation has been brought under control with the culling of about four million birds and the adoption of various other measures.
The state authorities have lifted the ban on poultry products in West Bengal except in 22 blocks in two districts from Wednesday.
India has not reported any human as having been affected by the H5N1 bird flu virus since 2006, but experts' fear the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person, leading to a pandemic.