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Chicken trade badly hit by birdflu scare

By Staff
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Kolkata, Feb 23 (UNI) Eventhough the West Bengal Government brushed aside fears about 'Birdflu' in the state, there had been an alarming decline in chicken trade.

''There has been no case of birdflu in the state. The Government has taken all precautionary measures, but the unfounded panic among the people has reduced demand for chicken affecting the poultry business,'' Health Minister Surya Kanta Mishra said.

While denying reports that the Government had ordered not to serve chicken to patients in the state-run hospitals, Mr Mishra, however, expressed helplessness in motivating patients. ''If patients do not want to eat chicken, we cannot force them,'' he said.

''But I have taken chicken yesterday as well as today. I shall have it whenever I can,'' the Minister said.

Animal Resource Development Minister Anisur Rehman also said he had taken chicken in his lunch even today. But he admitted that sale of chicken in the Government-run centres had plummeted like anything though there had not been any official directive against selling chicken and chicken products.

To rejuvenate the depressed situation, Mr Rehman said he would go to a Government-run meat centre on the northern fringe of the city to encourage the people to have chicken without fear.

A drive by Kolkata Municipal Corporation to ward off fear among the people virtually ended in a faux pas yesterday when it organised a ' chicken lunch' programme involving the Mayor, Mayors in Council, Coucillors and the staff member with an elaborate arrangement of chicken delicacies.

Sitting in rows, most of the participants enjoyed the items before the glare of television channels and other mediaperson with Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee choosing to be the exception.

Though claiming to be a regular chicken eater, Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee declined to be a party to the feast saying he could not afford to 'act like a clown'.

UNI KDG KK MA RAI2134

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