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Restrictions in Kangra after bird flu scare at Pong Dam

The officials had been directed to maintain vigil in the 9-km area in the reservoir’s radius, marked as a surveillance zone, and all tourist activities had been banned in Pong Dam till further orders.

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Alarmed over the death of over 1,800 migratory birds at Pong Dam in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the administration on Monday imposed a ban on sale, purchase of poultry and fish products along with restrictions on movement of people in catchment areas.

Talking to The Statesman, Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Prajapati said a surge in mysterious deaths of migratory birds at Pond Dam had been observed in the last few days and initial reports had indicated flu like disease to be the reason for these deaths.

“The initial report of the veterinary labs in Palampur and Jalandhar indicated that the death of migratory birds was caused by flu but we aren’t sure whether it’s avian influenza or other virus strain.

Now, the report of ICAR National Institute of High Security animal Diseases, Bhopal has confirmed that the birds died due to H5N1 virus. The movement of humans, agriculture and livestock activities within the 1-km radius of Pong Dam area had been restricted as it had been declared as an alert zone by the district administration.

The officials had been directed to maintain vigil in the 9-km area in the reservoir’s radius, marked as a surveillance zone, and all tourist activities had been banned in Pong Dam till further orders. Prajapati had also directed Chief Conservator of Forest, Wild Life, North at Dharamshala to ensure quick burial of dead birds and disinfection of infected areas to check its further spread.

It is worth mentioning here that migratory birds fly from Central Asia to Russia and Siberia to roost at Pong Dam, also known as Maharana Pratap Sagar dam, the largest manmade wetland, measuring 314 sq-km and is located at 300 km from Shimla. Barring a few exceptions, more than a lakh waterfowls of different species come to the reservoir for their sojourn, turning the area into a bird watchers’ paradise.

Bird flu outbreak in two Kerala dits

An outbreak of bird flu has been reported from some parts of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, prompting authorities to order culling of ducks, hens and other domestic birds in and around one- km radius of the affected areas.

Kottayam district authorities said bird flu has been reported from a duck farm in Neendoor where around 1,500 ducks have died, adds PTI. Similarly, bird flu outbreak has been reported from some farms in Kuttanad region of Alappuzha district.

Tests conducted at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal have confirmed the outbreak. State animal husbandry minister K Raju said in Thiruvananthapuram that the government will compensate farmers whose domestic birds will be culled. Officials said some 40,000 birds will have to be culled to check the H5N8 virus spread.