SC notice to Govt on plea to tackle man-animal conflict
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre and 17 states on a plea seeking strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOP) to tackle emergency situations arising out of man-animal conflicts in and around tiger reserves and forests.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul sought response from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and 17 states on a plea filed by advocate Abir Phukan seeking setting up of a committee to examine unregulated activities in forests and tiger reserves.
While issuing notice, the bench observed that if the governments come and pledge that they would follow the SOP in letter and spirit, then nothing would remain in the plea.
The plea referred to a recent incident at Belpadao region of Terai West forest division in Uttarakhand, in which forest officials allegedly tried to subdue a tiger using an earth mover after trying to tranquilise it.
"Completely brushing aside the standard operating procedure, the forest officials decided to use an earth mover to overpower the tiger," it said, adding that the incident reaffirmed the fact that "the unregulated activities of miners and quarry owners at places in and around forests are enough to cause significant harm to wildlife."
The plea sought urgent directions to ensure that an incident of this kind does not recur, by setting up a panel to look into the causes of concern which were contributing by increasing conflicts between human beings and animals.
"Ensure that forest departments of all states having tiger reserves engage competent staff which is adequately trained and equipped with the latest technology to deal with similar situations, " it said.
It alleged that there was an unholy nexus of miners and quarry owners with forest and other government officials which have resulted in an absolute disregard for all justifiable norms of sustainable development.