By Baidurya Sen:
During the month of January and February, 2012, there had been a sudden spurt in the number of crow deaths in Bengal. Morning walkers often complained that there had been a large number of crows lying dead in the pavement. It had led to the widespread panic among the citizens as they remembered the dreaded Avian Flu Virus which affected Bengal and its neighbouring states in 2011.
Though the crows are generally not regarded as carriers of H5N1 virus, scientists say that jungle crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) were infected by this virus during the outbreak in Japan in 2004. The mystery increased considerably as there was complete government apathy in this regard. Health officials stated then that the people should not be bothered much by it as it is not affecting them. After much media publicity and persuasion, some government officials from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation were directed to carry out tests by taking samples of these dead crows. But interestingly Mr. Atin Ghosh, Mayor-in-Council (Health) and Dr. Gopal Chakroborty, Joint Director of Animal and Husbandry department denied any such tests being carried out.
While such contradictions seem completely uncalled for in such serious matters, it is also amazing how lackadaisical government can be until these little concerns turns into a crisis. The abnormal rate of crow deaths was also seen in Jaipur. It is high time that the health official comes out publicly with a report as to what caused those deaths. Such matters of seriousness should be more open to the public and the scientific community rather than making it a ‘hush-hush’ affair.
Maybe the demand for tests was just an eyewash to hide their gross negligence. The government should make concrete efforts to find out the reason behind these deaths and take preventive measures from any outbreak in the future among man, animals or birds, alike.