Animal rights activists move SC against Env Ministry rule

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi. Photo: PTI

File photo of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi.
Photo: PTI

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition seeking the quashing of Centre’s notifications declaring Nilgai, monkey and wild boar as vermins. The petitioners have contended that people were being hired for mass killing of these three animals after they have been declared as vermins for one year in the states of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The issue has already seen two central government ministers – Environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi – sparring, with latter even accusing the Environment ministry of “lust” for killing.

Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change had issued three separate notifications dated December 1, 2015, February 3, 2016 and May 24, 2016 declaring Nilgai, wild boar and rhesus macaque (monkey) as vermins in some districts of Bihar, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, respectively for a period of one year.

On Wednesday, the plea filed by animal activist Gauri Maulekhi was mentioned before the vacation bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao, which agreed to list the matter during the week.

File photo of Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Photo-PTI

File photo of Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
Photo-PTI

“The impugned notifications have been passed in absolute disregard of the human-wildlife conflict plaguing the country and without any scientific survey backing them,” the plea said, contending that the Centre does not have power to issue such notification.

Arguing that once an animal is declared vermin, it is deprived of the protection provided to wild animals by the Wildlife Protection Act, the petitioners contended that the “indiscriminate killing of these animals will have a detrimental effect on the food chain and in turn lead to an ecological imbalance”.

It also alleged that the provisions of the Act “authorises the government to permit mindless slaughter of protected wildlife without any inquiry or investigation into the need for declaring protected species of wildlife as vermin for purpose of slaughter.”

Last week, Union minister Maneka Gandhi, who is also a well known animal rights activist, slammed the Environment Ministry over the move saying it was “writing to every state government, allowing them to provide a list of animals that can be killed so that the Centre can give permission.

“This is happening for the first time. I don’t understand this lust for killing of animals,” Maneka said.

On the other hand, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the action saying the killing was allowed on the request of states to protect crops. Javadekar insisted that it was “scientific management” of animal population and the permissions for killing animals designated as ‘vermin’ were restricted to particular areas and time period.

(With inputs from PTI)