Vol. 5 Num 549 Mon. December 12, 2005  

Guest birds bring delight, fear
No steps yet to create awareness about bird flu

Numerous guest birds have flocked to Hakaluki Haor, the biggest lake in the country and other water bodies in greater Sylhet, creating a mixed feeling of delight and fear among people.

Guest birds may carry the deadly virus of Avian Influenza, commonly known as 'bird flue', experts say. But there is no move in the administrations in Sylhet and Mounvibazar to face it.

Hakaluki Haor (water body) is spread over Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts. Six upazilas of Sylhet and Moulvibazar are adjacent to this Haor, which covers 18115 hectares of land in Fenchuganj, Beanibazar and Golapganj upazilas in Sylhet district and Baralekha, Juri and Kulaura upazilas in Moulvibazar district. Of the total, 70 percent of the water body is in Moulvibazar and rest 30 percent is in Sylhet.

Every winter, tens of thousands of guest birds of about 150 species from Siberian and other cold regions flock to the haors. They include Bright and Rose King-duck, Pati-duck, Bali Hash, Lenja, Chity, Sorali, Boikal, Nilshir Piyan, Pantamukhi, Pankouri, Buti-duck, China, Rangamuri, Black-duck, Peributhi, Chokachoki, Giria, Khonjona, Patari, Dolpipi, Water-hen, North-Giria, Dahuk, Patibatan, Common-chill, Cotton-Chill, Gergini, Cottontail, Pintail, Toughed Duck.

This correspondent visited the Kulaura portion of the Hakaluki haor and found that local people are not aware about bird flue.

Neither the government or NGOs have launched any awareness campaign, the local people said.

Sirajuddin Ahmed Badshah, chairman of Bhukshimoil Union Parishad on the bank of Hakaluki Haor said he is anxious since the birds started arriving with the advent of winter.

The birds arrive at a time when fishermen also go for fishing in large numbers.

MM Shaheen MP, elected from Kulaura (Moulvibazar-2) constituency, when contacted said he requested the government to launch an awareness campaign.

Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Md Eunusur Rahman said the department concerned has no equipment to detect and test the deadly virus. He said the issue has been discussed and steps will be taken to create awareness.

Guest birds chirping on calm waters of Hakaluki Haor in Moulvibazar.. PHOTO: STAR