Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Thursday slammed the Environment Ministry for allowing culling of wild animals, saying she cannot understand this “lust” for killing, but Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the action insisting it is done on request of states to protect crops.
The outburst from Gandhi, who holds the Women and Child Development portfolio and is an animal rights activist, came after the recent killing of ‘nilgai’ (blue bulls) in Bihar, which she termed as “biggest ever massacre”, even as the row led to criticism from opposition which alleged that there is no cohesion in the government.
Gandhi said the Union Environment Ministry “is 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.”
However, 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.
Gandhi claimed the Centre has allowed killing of ‘nilgai’ in Bihar, elephants in West Bengal, monkeys in Himachal Pradesh, peacocks in Goa and wild boars in Chandrapur even when the wildlife departments of states are saying they do not wish to kill animals.
On the ‘nilgai’ killing in Bihar, she said it has happened when neither the village head nor the farmers have called for their killing.
Responding to the charge, Javadekar said it is being done as per existing law and is not a central government programme.
“As per existing law when farmers face a lot of problems and their crops are completely damaged and when state government sends a proposal, only then we allow (culling) and grant approval to the state government’s proposal for a particular area and time period for scientific management. It is not a programme of the central government. The law is such,” he said.
Gandhi said 53 wild boars have been killed in drought-hit Chandrapur in Maharashtra and the Environment Ministry has allowed killing of 50 more, even when the state wildlife department does not want that.
The opposition parties alleged that there is no teamwork or cohesion in the government.
“The Ministries do not have cohesion among them. This is not the first time such a thing is happening. All ministries are clashing and that is why work is stalled. There is lack of teamwork,” JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok said.
NCP spokesperson Rahul Narvekar said, “There is no synchronisation between various ministries of the government, thanks to one single person dictating terms. This is another example of bad governance.”
Rhesus Macaque monkey, a vermin
Meanwhile, according to a notification, the Environment Ministry has declared Rhesus Macaque monkey in Himachal Pradesh as “vermin” for a period of one year.
The notification paves the way for state government to take steps for large-scale culling of monkeys. Vermin means wild animals which are believed to be harmful to crops, farm animals, game or which carry diseases.
The notification said that the state has reported damage to life and property including large scale destruction of agriculture by this species in areas outside forest.
It said that the government has “considered it necessary” to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and properties for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forest.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 62 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972), the Central Government, hereby declares Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta)… to be vermin for inclusion in Schedule V of the said Act, for a period of one year from the date of publication of this notification,” the Ministry’s notification said.
The districts in Himachal Pradesh where the monkeys will be included in Schedule V are Chamba, Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Shimla, Sirmour, Kullu, Hamirpur, Sonlan and Mandi.
(Feature image source: PTI)