Flu scare sees chicken smuggled to Kerala

Chicken smuggling from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Kerala has become rampant in the wake the latter banning the poultry, eggs and related products from other states for fear of bird flu (avian influenza) at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) at Hesaraghatta near Bangalore.

The vehicles carrying chicken from these states now take unguarded by-roads at the state borders to enter the most lucrative chicken market in the country.

On Tuesday night alone, 30 chicken-laden trucks from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu entered the state through porous Gopalapuram in the Palakkad district, said a leading chicken dealer in the state on the condition of anonymity. He confirmed that similar operations are taking places at other border districts such as Idukki, Thiruvananthapruam and Kollam.   

With the ban, police and other agencies are more vigilant at all 18 check posts in the state and are sending back chicken and egg carrying vehicles. On Wednesday, five trucks with eggs coming to Kerala from Namackkal, the major egg producing centre in Tamil Nadu, had to return as they were not permitted to enter the state.  

Poultry farmers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka cannot afford to lose Kerala market which daily consumes chicken worth Rs 8 crore. “In fact, they run poultry farms mainly for the Kerala market, said Ravi Kumar, a government vet working at a polyclinic at a border village in Palakkad.

K G Suma, Director of Animal Husbandry Department, who issued the ban order, said that entry of chicken, eggs, poultry manure and other products from other states are banned in Kerala until further order.

As a precautionary measure, she said, visitors are banned at the poultry farms run by the Animal Husbandry Department. Sales of products too from these farms are stopped. The private farms have been asked to follow suit.

It has not yet been decided when the ban will be lifted. “It is too early to think about lifting the ban. The decision will be taken only at a high-level meeting jointly called by the animal husbandry minister and the health minster,’’ Suma said.

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