Gujarat Govt Delayed Action On Bird Flu Due To Summit: HC Petition

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Gandhinagar: A petitioner, who challenged the Gujarat government’s handling of bird flu case in Ahmedabad, on Tuesday told the Gujarat High Court that action was delayed by several days due to the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. Petitioner Kiran Shah, in an affidavit filed before the division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi, told the court that the state government was aware that the bird flu case was positive as early as January 4.

He said that the government undertook culling and other measures to prevent its outbreak as late as January 13 because it was busy preparing for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. Shah referred to a letter issued by the Centre’s department of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries on January 4 directing the state government to take preventive measures in view of positive bird flu case.

The letter asked the state government’s department of animal husbandry to declare 10 km area around the place as affected zone and also increase surveillance and provide it with day-to-day report.

The state government had in its affidavit filed before the court earlier said that it came to know about the report of the Bhopal laboratory saying that the bird flu case was positive only on January 11, and undertook measures like culling after that.

Petitioner Shah in his counter affidavit alleged that the state government deliberately suppressed the report, and said the government’s affidavit is false.

The High Court is hearing a set a two PILs related to the detection of bird flu among birds kept at an animal rescue centre in the thickly populated Memnagar area of the city. The matter will come up for hearing next on Thursday.

In it’s earlier affidavit, the state government had claimed that swift action was taken by the administration to tackle bird flu.

In their PILs, petitioners Bhagwatiben Brahmbhatt and Shah have contended that authorities have not followed any guidelines and tried to hide their failure by doing culling operation during the night of January 13.

The petitioners also sought identification of persons responsible for bringing affected birds in the locality and action against them by way of penalty for causing hardship to local residents.