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Delhi minister asks Centre for action over bird flu

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) Delhi Animal Husbandry Minister Gopal Rai on Tuesday urged the central government to direct departments coming under it to take precautionary measures against bird flu (H5N8) in the city.

Rai said that all major locations in Delhi where bird deaths have been reported come under the central government.

“So far, bird deaths have been reported in Delhi Zoo, DDA-run Deer Park and a lake near Shakti Sthal (the memorial to Indira Gandhi),” Rai said after meeting Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

“Delhi Zoo comes under central government; so does Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which runs the Deer Park. And Shakti Sthal lake comes under Central Public Works Department (CPWD).”

“So, I have requested the Union Agriculture Minister to direct central government departments to take precautionary measures to avoid any more bird deaths.”

On Monday, four birds died at the lake behind Shakti Sthal, now put out of bounds for people, due to H5N8 avian influenza virus. Two more birds died on Tuesday.

The first bird deaths were reported from Delhi Zoo, which, like the Deer Park, has since been shut.

Rai said that till now, 85 samples collected from various locations have been sent to the central lab in Bhopal but results of only 27 samples have arrived.

“I have requested Radha Mohan Singh ji to direct concerned authorities to expedite the process of sending reports, so further action could be taken,” he added.

“For example, no more bird deaths have been reported from Delhi Zoo for the last few days. But samples have consistently been sent from there to the central lab in Bhopal. Only after the results come can we consider opening the zoo.”

Rai also asked the central government to issue a health advisory for the public like the one issued by the Delhi government to increase awareness.

On Monday, Rai issued a health advisory with a detailed list of do’s and don’ts, including avoiding raw or half-cooked eggs, chicken and meat.

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