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Assam civic body kills scores of egrets, says their droppings could spread Covid

The Tangla Municipal Board in the Udalguri district of northern Assam believed that bamboo groves were a source of coronavirus due to the birds’ droppings.

Published: 25th June 2021 03:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2021 06:07 PM   |  A+A-

The egret chicks. (Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A civic body in Assam is in the eye of a storm for killing scores of egrets on the unfounded belief that the birds spread coronavirus.

The Tangla Municipal Board in the Udalguri district of northern Assam believed that bamboo groves were a source of coronavirus due to the birds’ droppings.

It had issued a notice to five residents of the town to fell the bamboos for creating a hygienic atmosphere in the neighbourhood.

“This is to inform you that the droppings of the egrets, nesting at your bamboo groves, created an unhygienic ambiance which could spread coronavirus. Therefore, you are informed to fell the bamboos to create a hygienic atmosphere,” the notice, issued on June 8, reads.

When the families ignored it, a team of the civic body, armed with machetes and axes, raided the house of one of them, Lokjit Sutar, on Thursday and lopped off the tall grasses, killing scores of chicks that were nesting in the safety of their homes.

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None of Sutar’s family members was at home when the civic body team raided the house and went about with its job.

The chicks which survived, with or without injuries, were transported to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation near Kaziranga National Park with help from locals, vets, and authority.

As per initial estimates, over 300 fledglings and nestlings died. The act of the civic body riled wildlife activists and citizens alike.

“It is an act that goes against the Constitution. The civic body should have realised that the bamboo grove was also home to the egret chicks. Pity that it could not think of them,” Soumyadeep Datta, who is the director of Nature’s Beckon, said.

Condemning the act, he demanded that action should be taken against the civic body officer who had issued the notice.

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