Sumit Ghoshal, Sunday, February 19, 2006 18:00 IST
MUMBAI: The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the biotechnology committee of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had predicted, independently of each other, last November that India was likely to come in the grip of avian influenza within three months. Saturday’s events proved they were bang on.
BNHS projects manager M Zafar-ul Islam had told DNA in November 2005 that the onset of winter wouldherald the arrival of migratory water birds like the bar-headed geese from China, which are knownto be carriers of avianinfluenza.
Islam had said that he had received the information from the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN) activists in Assam who had noticed birds dropping dead all of a sudden in those areas. Many local people would consume the dead birds, which the IBCN said was a dangerous practice.
The Union Government had also been alerted, he added. About the same time, Dr Swati Piramal, chairperson of CII’s Biotechnology Committee, had forecast with the help of computerised models that bird flu would hit India some time in February. “We made our presentation on November 14, which was Maharashtra’s Biotechnology Day,” she told DNA on Saturday.
Dr Piramal stressed that special containment measures would be needed. Thus movement of live poultry and animals between states should be restricted, the birds should not be transported in open cages and proper awareness about the danger of consuming bird flu affected poultry should be created, particularly in the villages