Saturday, March 01, 2014

Lion translocation: Gujarat files curative plea in SC

Lion translocation: Gujarat files curative plea in SC
The Times of India

After some dilly-dallying on the matter, the Gujarat government finally filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court against the planned translocation of some lions from Gir to Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, in October last year, the apex court had dismissed Gujarat's review petition seeking a re-evaluation of the court's own order of April 15, 2013 allowing shifting of the big cats to Kuno Palpur.

In its order of April 15, the Supreme Court had directed that some lions from Gir forests in Gujarat should be shifted to Kuno. It had also formed a committee of experts for the implementation of the order within six months. However, the state government had challenged the same in mid-May but it was rejected after a chamber hearing by the bench.

In its curative petition, the Gujarat government has mentioned the same grounds as in previous petitions to oppose the proposed translocation of lions. The government has stated that the threat of poaching, gun culture in the area around Kano Palpur, inadequate rehabilitation and even the prey base in the area militated against the plan to shift the lions.

Officials said that no new argument can be taken up in the petition but the government can substantiate, with fact and figures, the points raised in its plea.

The officials further said that they have also annexed a copy of the recent experts' report prepared by Ravi Chellam and YV Jhala, expressing concern about the gun culture in Kuno-Palpur area and other issues.

In the petition, the government has nowhere denied that it was not willing to shift lions to Kuno from Gir but it has opposed the move on various grounds. "We cannot directly refuse translocation but can oppose it," said a government official.

Officials said that the matter will now be referred to three judges who will then go into the merits of the case. "If the judges find substance in the petition, they will order a fresh hearing. Otherwise, they can reject it with a detailed order," said an official of the Gujarat government.

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