SUBJECT :Bird flu 

Culling operation runs late into the night; lake out of bounds for visitors; Lake Sports Complex closed

With visitors kept at bay on Thursday, an eerie silence prevailed at Sukhna Lake as the abode of the domesticated geese today became their grave with joint teams of experts belonging to the Jalandhar-based Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) and the UT Wildlife and Animal Husbandry Department culling the 100-odd geese.

Though earlier planned for the morning, the operation could begin only at 5.30 pm as the entire day was spent holding meetings chaired by UT officials. UT Administrator Shivraj V Patil also held a meeting with senior officials on the issue at 2 pm, delaying the start of the operation.

Continuing until late in the night with the help of search lights, the operation saw bird catchers using boats to push the geese towards the island where they were first culled before being buried.

“The culling of geese is being restricted to Sukhna Lake where one goose tested positive for bird flu. The sample had been sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory, Bhopal,” said an official supervising the operation. During the operation, the bird catchers had a difficult time as some of the geese escaped towards the regulator end and the jungle area. The carcasses of some of the birds, which died during the past two days, were also being collected for disposal.

At Sukhna Lake, the usual hustle and bustle was missing as over 100 policeman ensured that the tourist place remained out of bounds for visitors. All entry points to the lake were sealed. Even Sarovar Path, the road section in front of the lake, was sealed for traffic.

The closure of the lake area came as a surprise for morning walkers when they came to know about the outbreak of the disease in the lake and were prohibited from entering the area. “It’s sad that the place that is usually full of hustle and bustle is wearing a deserted look. I could never imagine that this place would be hit by such a dangerous virus,” said Col Preetinder Bajwa (retd), a regular walker at the lake.

The facilities at the Lake Sports Complex, including water sports, gym, squash courts, tennis courts, horse riding and dinning, have been closed till further orders. Though the manager of the complex is out to attend a shooting tournament, the official on duty has pasted the “entry ban” orders.

“We just came to know about the ban on entry this morning. Last evening, everything was normal. This morning, we are asked to leave the premises,” said one of the employees at the Lake Sports Complex. A group of squash players said, “We were asked to leave the premises as soon as possible. After reaching the complex, we were asked not to attend any practice session here for at least four days.”

CITCO suffers Rs1.5 lakh loss

Besides vendors losing their business, CITCO faced an estimated loss of Rs 1.5 lakh today. Sukhna Lake caters to almost 5,000 people, including regular walkers and visitors, every day. Due to the complete shutdown, the authorities faced the biggest-ever loss since the creation of this spot.

Golf Club told to cage ducks

Officials of the Animal Husbandry Department asked the Chandigarh Golf Club authorities to cage at least 12 ducks being reared on the club premises for two weeks. It asked them to feed the birds while wearing proper masks and gloves. They have also been asked to keep the birds under observation and medication. Ducks and chicken at Haryana Raj Bhawan, located next to the lake, have, however, gone unnoticed by experts.

Officials retrieve buried geese

The dead geese that were buried in the forest area prior to the confirmation of the avian flu were also being retrieved before being disposed of as per the standard guidelines. Residents of Sector 5 noticed a dead crow and two dead pigeons in the area.

Source: The Tribune Chandigarh