Over the past few days, the mood at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) has been tense with the staff working overtime to sanitise the various bird units, and a school on the premises being shut. However, communities living in 68 villages around the unit are more or less calm, even oblivious to the crisis that the unit is facing.

The CPDO premises have turned into a fortress ever since the bird flu outbreak made headlines last week. Visitors have been denied entry: the strong police presence outside ensures that. And nobody working there is talking. When contacted over phone, an official said that it has been declared a “surveillance zone”.

Chemical pool

At the entrance to the demonstration unit is a mini pool of a reddish liquid chemical mixture, created as a precautionary measure, through which all vehicles must drive. “Any vehicle that enters and leaves through this gate is sprayed with disinfectants and driven through this pool,” explained a worker.

The turkey unit, where there are no more birds left, has been virtually sealed off with a large blue polythene sheet blocking the view from the gate.

Turkeys were the first casualties of the outbreak. After 3,600 birds died, the remaining 700 were culled.

No panic at all

However, in contrast to the department officials, the local community outside CPDO is surprisingly calm.

At the CPDO quarters nearby, people were seen busying themselves with their routine.

“They have not asked us to wear masks or anything,” said a resident of the ground floor apartment.

Richard, who lives in the neighbourhood, said that they were given a week’s dosage of pills as a precautionary measure. “No one has come here or told us anything else. We are taking the tablets,” he said.

Business hit

However, owners of chicken stalls are feeling the pinch. H.N. Sridhar, who runs one a stone’s throw away from CPDO, said that he has suffered a minimum of Rs. 15,000 loss for the four days of forced closure during the festival.

“I would have done good business during Mahalaya Amavasya when people make offerings to their ancestors. When the sale of chicken was banned, I gave away the remaining 20 birds at very low prices. Now, I’m just sitting at home waiting for the ban to be lifted.”

All along the way, eateries and kebab centres too remained closed.

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