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Blue Sheep Deaths: Prepare action plan else pay fine, says NGT

The disease, affecting Bharals, was reported by mountaineer Loveraj Singh Dharamsaktu on September 9 last year.

dehradun Updated: Mar 01, 2018 20:32 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Blue sheep,Blue Sheep Deaths
Blue Sheep, in Kedar Tal protected area, are suffering from a strange disease leading to blindness.(HT FILE)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directed National Biodiversity Authority and Uttarakhand State Biodiversity Board to prepare a joint action plan to address a mysterious eye infection among the endangered Himalayan blue sheep, locally known as ‘bharal’, at Gangotri National Park.

The four-member bench of three judicial members —Justice Jawad Rahim, Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and Justice SP Wangdi— along with an expert member Satyawan Singh Garbyal wasn’t satisfied with the counter affidavit filed by the Uttarakhand forest department on February 9 and asked to prepare an action plan within a week failing which a penalty of Rs 1 lakh will be recovered from the salaries of concerned officers, informed the advocates.

The disease, affecting Bharals, was reported by mountaineer Loveraj Singh Dharamsaktu on September 9 last year. Blue Sheep, in Kedar Tal protected area, was suffering from a strange disease leading to blindness, he said.

A Delhi-based advocate, Gaurav Kumar Bansal, filed an application about the infection following which the tribunal directed the Uttarakhand government on December 21 to submit a reply.

The green panel directed the state government and the state bio-diversity board to jointly file an action plan within a week to address the issue and warned that in case of failure, they would be liable to pay Rs 1 lakh which shall be recovered from the salary of the concerned officer.

The bench also impleaded the Wildlife Institute of India as a party in the case.

Rahul Verma, additional advocate general of Uttarakhand said, “The Tribunal wants the state and national biodiversity authorities to prepare the action plan and submit in a week’s time. The order is yet to be generated.”

Chief wildlife warden DVS Khati had submitted the counter affidavit in February mentioning that the disease was limited to a restricted area as the teams sent for inspection found the remaining animals in a healthy condition. Of 353 sheep in the park, only five were infected, said the affidavit.

However, the affidavit lacked a strategy to attend to the issue because of which the tribunal asked for an action plan.

“Even if the disease is restricted to a particular area, the department should come up with a plan to address it,” Bansal added.

The forest department had also outlined that the teams inspected the entire region and made 568 observations.

The endangered species live on high-altitude mountains mainly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan and Bhutan. Many Buddhist monasteries protect the bharals found around them.

The animal is categorised as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Their population faces the threat of poaching for meat.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 20:31 IST