NEW DELHI: Fatal impact of bomb-baits on a pregnant elephant in Kerala and a pregnant cow in Himachal Pradesh made a pained Supreme Court on Thursday seek a comprehensive solution to the unintended collateral damage to animals caused by the farmers’ crude attempts to save their crops from certain species like wild boars.
Entertaining a PIL filed by BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty, who claimed to have acted in number of Begali and Bollywood films, a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “We are treating the matter with anxiety. Preservation of farmland is important. If wild animals destroy crops, where will the farmers go? If there is a man-eating tiger or a rogue elephant, it can be killed. But, large scale killing of wild animals in the name of crop protection, is that justified?”
Asking petitioner’s counsel Sidharth Luthra to think of a comprehensive solution to the problems arising from human-animal conflict, the CJI-led bench sought responses to Mohanty’s petition from Union ministry of environment, forest and climate control, Animal Welfare Board of India, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh.
It said, “We want to examine whether land inside the forests are being encroached by humans in forests of Bihar, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh. Simply passing an order saying don’t kill them altogether and allow the crops to be damaged is no solution.”
The petitioner said under the Wildlife Protection Act, the Union government had the power to remove a wild species from the protected list of animals allowing their killing and culling. However, he complained that under the guise of this the state governments are resorting to indiscriminate killings of wild boars, blue bulls (Nilgai) and monkeys, identifying them as animals primarily responsible for crop destruction.
“Unfortunately, Section 62 Wildlife Protection Act has been wrongly applied by both the Central and State Government leading to indiscriminate killing and culling of wild animals on the presumption that the same has the sanctity of law. This is practiced mostly in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kerala.”
The actor turned politician suggested alternatives – sensitization of community to human-animal conflict management tools such as community watch, guarding, community fences, contact information for appropriate authorities in times of conflict; creation of rapid response teams equipped to manage conflict; uniform national policy towards payment of ex-gratia, including proper damage assessment guidelines and adequate compensation, expediting crop insurance payments; and sterilisation of those animals responsible for crop damage to control their numbers.