The environment ministry apparently approved proposals allowing hunting of animals without any scientific study as required in its own advisory of December 2014, reveals ministry’s Right To Information (RTI) replies.
Sources also said the ministry did not pay heed to advice of its wildlife wing against allowing hunting of animals and cleared proposals from as many as three states for killing animals across districts for a year.
The advisory, the first of its kind since hunting was banned in 1972, was issued after several chief ministers and members of Parliament sought permission to kill animals whose population was rising and leading to increase in crop damage. It clearly asked the states to submit the proposals for declaring animals causing damage to crops and humans on basis of scientific study and expert opinion.
Documents inspected under RTI by Prevention of Cruelty to Animals showed that Bihar got approval for killing of red bulls and wild boar on basis of a three-page letter written by the state’s forest secretary Vivek Kumar Singh.
The state submitted minutes of the state wildlife board meeting headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar clearing proposal for hunting and documents related to compensation given to farmers for crop loss in the last few years.
“The ministry approved the proposal even though there was no scientific study on growth of population of wild boar and red bulls in the state and fragmentation of forest leading to increase in human-animal conflict,” said Gauri Maulekhi, who has sought the information under RTI.
The documents assessed from other states such as Himachal and Uttarakhand also showed that proposals without any backing of scientific study were approved.
The environment ministry officials, however, insisted that proposals were approved as per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and after due diligence.
“Last year, more than 500 people lost their lives in human-wildlife conflicts. There are standard operating processes laid down in the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Therefore, the Ministry has not given any permission to kill either Deer, Peacock or Elephant,” said S. K Khanduri, inspector general of the forest on human-wildlife conflicts.
He said five states have submitted the proposal and of three has been approved. “The Ministry examines the proposal in detail and allows scientific management in a specific area for a limited time,” he added.
Prakash Javadekar had earlier also ruffled feathers with his cabinet colleagues.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had resisted his ministry’s decision to allow bull fighting sport called Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu before the recently concluded state assembly polls. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with whom Gandhi is associated, had got a stay from the Supreme Court.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati had also opposed environment ministry’s bid to allow hydro projects in upper reaches of Uttarakhand saying it would destroy the national river and had written a letter to him opposing the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the green ministry.
Javadekar has, however, refused to enter verbal duel with his cabinet colleagues and had left the job of issuing clarification to his ministry officials.