BHUBANESWAR: Cooperation followed the protests in Keranga, epicentre of the H5N1 outbreak, as the district administration managed to start culling of poultry birds on Wednesday. Over 250 birds were culled on the day as the rapid reaction teams (RRTs) fanned out to the village and collected those from the villagers.
There are over 1200 birds in Keranga which are targeted to be culled during the sanitisation operation. Although the whole operation was planned to be completed in a day, locating the birds proved difficult.
The operation, which had run into trouble on Tuesday after protests from the local inhabitants, was briefly disrupted when former minister and senior Congress leader Suresh Routray opposed the move.
However, since the villagers had been persuaded, the culling operation resumed after Routray left the place.
The district administration has created a huge pit of 2 m x 2 m where the carcasses are being buried in different layers with disinfectants. Households where the birds were collected were also sprayed with formalin and residents were provided hand-wash solutions to keep the virus at bay.
The veterinary officials also found 14 crows and cranes which had died near a place of worship which is believed to be the epicentre.
The Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department said a close watch is being kept on the surveillance zone which is identified in the 1 km to 10 km radius of Keranga. Commissioner-cum-Secretary Bishnupada Sethi said so far, unusual mortality of birds has not been reported from other places.
Chilika lagoon, which is thronged by migratory birds, is also under watch. Sethi said after being infected, birds perish within 24 hours. So it is unlikely that migratory birds are carrying the virus. However, resident migratory species are being monitored but as of now, no death has been reported.
Chief Wildlife Warden Sidhanta Das also concurred with the view and said from no part of Chilika, bird mortality has been reported as yet.