Rajasthan High court takes initiative to save endangered Indian Bustard

The population of the bird is on a decline and after becoming almost extinct from rest of the world, the bird is fighting for its survival in the Forest Department files.

Published: 16th January 2019 12:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2019 12:18 AM   |  A+A-

Great Indian Bustard is on the brink of extinction. (File | EPS)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: Rajasthan High Court's Main bench in Jodhpur has issued a notice asking the central and the state government about the 22 crore rupees spent on the protection of the Great Indian Bustard.

The population of the bird is on a decline and after becoming almost extinct from rest of the world, the bird is fighting for its survival in the Forest Department files. Captive breeding has not started yet and the numbers have come down to just about 60- 70.

The bird has been given the status of the State Bird but despite the 22 crore rupees budget sanctioned nothing has been done in reality. A Bench of Justice Sangeet Lodha and Justice Dinesh Mehta has issued this notice on Monday to the Central and State Government and has asked them to give a reply on the issue by 25th January.

Given the decreasing numbers of the Indian Bustard, the government had created a project to protect it 8 years ago. The captive breeding was started 8 years ago but despite the funds getting released two years ago , the numbers came down.

Now, The bench has summoned the Central Government's Sanjita Purohit and Additional Advocate General of the state Government Sandeep Shah to reply to this situation. The High Court has appointed Advocate Vikal Balia as the NyayMitra in this case.

The responsible parties for the captive breeding , Rajasthan forest department and Wild Life Institute of India ( WII), have not started the breeding process yet. The bird is found in 5 states and in the last 20 years they are have decreased to just 4-5 in each state.

In Rajasthan, the bird's population has come down to about 60- 70 but the official numbers are stated up to be around 100.

For captive breeding, a closure has to be built in the Kota city of Rajasthan but sources say that the environment is not conducive for the bird to survive. The other point of dispute is that the flight path of the bird was to be ascertained through a radio collar.

But the authorities say that it will take time and will not be a solution to save the birds. Authorities point out another obstacle which is that it is difficult to provide the right environment after breeding for the birds and no discussion has taken place with the locals on this. Both the departments are blaming each other for the delay in the breeding process.

Rajasthan's Chief Wild Life Warden, J V Reddy, says, "the truth is that there has been a delay in the process and we are in touch with WII on this. But they have got the money and they have to take the work further. In Kota, a 700-hectare enclosure has to be built near Anta. Land also has to be given near Pokhran in jaiselmer district of about 5 hectares."

"Our sources reveal that the files of the land are with the collector."

Wildlife Institute's scientist W K Jhala also agrees that they have the money but the work is not able to progress. 

"We have the money for a long time but we are waiting for the land. We have talked to the Chief wild life warden as well. The issue remains that there is no one objecting but still the work is not happening. Now there is no time to waste", he said.

The expert has said that if the captive breeding process is not initiated soon, the Great Indian Bustard will be lost forever.

This will be the first instance though that a state will lose its honoured state bird. 

"If the bird is lost, it will be a setback to all the bird lovers. With immediate effect the breeding should start in Jaisalmer, which provides the ideal environment for it", says R N Mehrotra ( Former chief conservator of forest, Rajasthan ).

In the National Desert Park spread over 3162 sq km in Barmer and Jaisalmer, the number of Godavan ( Indian Bustard) has decreased in the last one and a half decades.

In Rajasthan there is no increase in the number of Godavana in the areas like Sum, Sudashree, Phulia, Mujalar, Khudi, Satto etc.

They deliver eggs on the ground which becomes the food of reptiles and is sometimes crushed under the feet of cattle.

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