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Govt eats crow on bird flu denial



KATHMANDU: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives today confirmed bird flu in crows of Kathmandu valley during a meeting with Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means. Earlier the Department of Livestock Services that falls under the ministry had denied that crows at Rastriya Shava Grihya had died due to bird flu.

The bird flu cases were jointly verified by Minister of State for Agriculture Om Prakash Yadav, Agriculture Secretary Nathu Prasad Chaudhary and Department of Livestock Services Director General Dr Nar Bahadur Rajwar. The committee had held a meeting with the ministry after bird flu was confirmed in Panchthar, Ilam, Sunsari and Jhapa districts.

The parliamentary committee directed the ministry to take necessary steps to control bird flu as soon as it is recorded in the community. They also asked the ministry to increase the budget to control the spread of bird flu and to establish a mobile team for monitoring and surveillance at the affected areas. It also directed the ministry to be extra vigilant in border areas and improve its quarantine services.

The committee asked the ministry to clarify why it did not follow Bird Flu Control Directives-2064. It may be mentioned that the ministry started action without declaring the bird flu-hit areas in Sunsari, Ilam and Jhapa districts as ‘crisis zone’. The committee also showed its concern for not making the disease public as soon as it was confirmed.

Although the ministry should not slacken surveillance in the crisis zone for 90 days, the ministry was found to be watchful at Manohara in Bhaktapur only for 42 days. The committee also asked the ministry to ensure that the staff took proper precaution while culling birds at the affected areas.

Lawmakers drew the attention of the government towards the complaints of those whose birds had to be culled and were not compensated properly.

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