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Navapur is bird-free

By Staff
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Mumbai, Feb 22 (UNI) The bird flu-hit poultry town of Navapur in northern Maharashtra was today declared free of chickens and eggs by the State government with the killing of over two lakh birds and destruction of 3.6 lakh eggs.

Government spokesman Bhushan Gagrani said there was now not a single bird left at Navapur with the culling of all the 2,09793 birds. He said 3.6 lakh eggs, too, have been destroyed.

But the uncertainty surrounding the actual number of laying birds in the 30,000-strong town bordering Gujarat remains as Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and various government officials had put the number of poultry livestock at around nine lakh on February 18 when the Union government, in a communication to the State government, had confirmed presence of the avian flu virus H5N1.

A few days before the outbreak was confirmed, Navapur Poultry Farmers Association president Ghulam Vera had estimated the number of laying birds at between 12 to 14 lakhs.

After stating on February 19 that nine lakh birds were required to be killed to prevent spread of the disease, the Chief Minister yesterday disclosed that government officials did not find any bird in '' 35 poultries '' during the survey held immediately after the confirmation of the outbreak of the deadly disease, adding they had ordered killing of all birds in 14 poultry centres. Navapur, he said, had a total of 9.66 lakh birds but government officials gave him the figure of 7,50,630 immediately after the outbreak of the flu.

Asked to comment on the wide discrepancy today, the government spokesman said records of poultry have been requistioned to find out the actual number of birds in them on February 18.

There are 52 poultries in Navapur of which 49 are located in a radius of three km and 16 of these were badly hit by the bird flu.

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