Repel disease attack, HC tells government
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued three-fold directions to the state government and forest department for conservation of lions in Gir in the wake of unnatural deaths reported due to various reasons including viral infection.
The steps taken by the state government to arrest the spread of the virus after the death of 23 lions in Dalkhaniya range were appreciated by the high court. The court expressed its satisfaction over the efforts by teams of 550 officials, for quick survey, vaccination etc.
"We direct the authorities to scrupulously follow the suggestions made by the experts and to take all possible steps without any loss of time to see that no such virus/bacterial infection is spread to any other sub-divisions and take all possible steps for their (lions') recovery," a bench of Chief Justice R S Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi directed.
The court has ordered continuous monitoring through special teams and to ensure that no virus is spread in other areas of Gir Sanctuary.
The HC said that the Asiatic lion is the pride of Gujarat and unnatural deaths of the big cats should be curbed by implementing a time-bound programme. It has ordered the government to report back on January 15, 2019 after implementing various directions issued on Wednesday.
The HC was concerned about lion deaths due to accidental falls in open wells. It directed the state authorities to cover the remaining 17,008 open wells by constructing parapets. The court also ordered the authorities to propagate its Rs 16,000 subsidy scheme and sensitize farmers to cover open wells. Concerned mamlatdars of three districts - Gir Somnath, Amreli and Junagadh - are to report periodically to resident collectors on progress.
The HC also directed stringent action against farmers who put up electric fences around their fields. The court was concerned about lion deaths due to electrocution. The amicus curiae in this case, advocate Hemang Shah, had suggested dealing with this problem. The court said, "Usage of electric fences, unauthorizedly, is required to be stopped with immediate effect."
The court has ordered all farmers be informed to remove electric fences, special flying squads be formed to make periodical inspection of fields and to take steps for removal of electric fences. The court has ordered registration of FIR against those farmers who refuse to remove electric fences.
The HC also directed the government to attend any other cause resulting in deaths of lions. The court is hearing the issue on basis of a suo motu PIL filed on a TOI report in March that 184 lions had died in last two years.