The coal is one of the extensively utilized minerals in Meghalaya. Though coal deposits in the state is found all along the southern fringe of Shillong plateau, Jaintial Hills District is a major producer of coal.


SHILLONG, May 26: Headmen of five villages under the banner of the People

The state Health Department was sent into a tizzy after a girl with suspected symptoms of bird flu was admitted at the Civil Hospital here on Thursday. "One Anjalina Paslain (21) has been admitted with fever and rashes and has been kept in the isolation ward,' state director of health services, Dr K H Lakiang said, adding that some tests have been done for "prevention' and "diagnosis. He, while not ruling out the possibility of bird flu, said: "Nothing can be said as of now. The blood and stool samples of the victim have been collected, and will be sent for test for the avian flu to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Delhi on Friday.' District Surveillance Officer (Integrated Diseases Surveillance Cell) Dr M Basaiawmoit and other senior health officials also did not rule out the possibility of the deadly disease, but insisted on waiting till the tests results are obtained. Requesting anonymity, the two specialist doctors attending the victim said: "Certain respiratory problems also have similar symptoms. We have to wait for the test results to come. It will take three to four days.' The victim, who hails from Sipung in Jaintia Hills district, was first admitted at the local health centre, after which she was brought to a private hospital in Shillong, which further referred her to the civil hospital here. Significantly, there were mass deaths of birds in Sipung last week, but blood tests of the dead poultry had tested negative for H5N1 virus. State Veterinary Director Dr D Khonglah, however, ruled out any threat of the deadly virus saying, "The death of the poultry at Sipung was due to Ranikhet disease. We have conducted tests which confirmed that the poultry died due to Ranikhet as the poultry owners skipped regular vaccinations.' The Superintendent of the Civil Hospital could not be contacted despite several attempts. Meghalaya was the first state in the country to sound an alert after the outbreak of bird flu in neighbouring Bangladesh this year.

When Sted Syiemlieh was a little boy, people in his mountain village, Tyrna, a few km from Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, could predict when the skies would open up. "It was always at the same time,' the