Udalguri/ Guwahati: The Assam government on Friday ordered a probe into the felling of bamboo groves in Tangla town of Udalguri district by the local administration to destroy a nesting hub of egrets, citing apprehension that bird poop could be carriers of COVID-19.

Environment and forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya directed PCCF (wildlife) Amit Sahai to inquire into the matter and submit a report, an official said in the state capital.

“The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) has directed the Divisional Forest Officer of Dhansiri to take suitable action and report by today evening,” the official said.

The Tangla Municipal Committee, in a letter on June 8, had directed five residents of ward numbers 1 and 2 of the area to cut the bamboo plants in their premises.

The letter, signed by the executive officer of the committee, read, “the droppings of egrets that are nesting on the bamboo plants in your premise have caused unhygienic conditions, which could lead to increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Therefore, you are asked to cut the bamboo plants in your premises and create a hygienic living condition in the area”.

When the owners of the bamboo groves did not chop the bamboo groves within the specified time frame, the local administration stepped in and felled the plants.

Tangla police station officer-in-charge Someswar Konwar, said, “the residents were given a time frame to chop the bamboo plants. But they didnt pay heed”.

Asked about the exact number of egrets who died due to the felling of the bamboo plants, the officer said, the police were not aware of the figures as the Forest department was responsible for assessing it.

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Forest department officials said they had not received any intimation and did not have any data with them.

According to the local people, many of the birds flew away, while many were taken by people for consumption.

There were numerous unhatched eggs and fledglings in the nests, which were harmed or killed when the plants were hewed down.

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