Ahead of Hindu’s prime festival of Holi, the market and malls are packed with colour dyes, coloured powder, and non-veg and non-delicacies. Every year, chicken sales increase due to a rise in demand on Holi.

That is past. This time the process to cull nearly 5000 birds, including chickens and ducks are going on in Jharkhand’s Bokaro and Ranchi district after a bird flu outbreak was reported at a state-run poultry farm in Bokaro.

H5N1, a type of avian influenza virus, was confirmed among a protein-rich breed of chicken, ‘Kadaknath’, at the farm in Lohanchal where 88 birds died and 103 had to be culled.

Experts say chicken sales have declined by 90 -95 percent on Sunday, two days before Holi on Tuesday as the state government mounts efforts to counter deadly bird flu that can be transmitted by consuming it.

The sale of a block of chickens around the central city were banned by the state administration. As a result, many restaurants and hotels have put up notices asking consumers to not ask for non-vegetarian chicken products.

Several retail and wholesalers and poultry companies to whom JharkhandStateNews.com spoke said chicken sales have fallen by 90-95 percent. Even the prices of broiler chicken have fallen due to a fall in demand.

The state government has banned the sale and purchase of chicken. This has ruined the business of wholesale and retail sellers of chicken. “ We are doomed”, said a chicken seller in Kanke road, Ranchi echoing the sentiments of other chicken sellers in Ranchi.

The district administration has set up Rapid Action Force comprising an animal husbandry doctor backed by four members. The RAF is supposed to indulge in the killing of live chickens, disposal of bodies scientifically, and complete cleaning and dispensation work in bird flu-infected areas.

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