CHENNAI: Madras High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 7,500 on the TN government for not complying with its earlier orders relating to turtle conservation and external audit of government efforts on the same.
Originally, taking suo-motu note of a report in an English daily published on January 20 last, the first bench led by Chief Justice SK Kaul on January 28 had directed the government to appoint an external agency and file a comprehensive report. It also appointed advocate T Mohan as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter.
When the matter came up on April 18, the bench of CJ SK Kaul and Justice S Vaidyanathan noted that the government had failed to comply with the orders passed three months ago. "The state government is in breach of our order dated January 28, 2016, having done nothing till the anvil of the hearing for carrying out an audit by a non-governmental organisation working in the field of turtle conservation," the bench said and added that only vide letter dated April 7, the consent of the Trust for Environmental Education was sought to be obtained. Two and half months had gone by without appointing the external audit agency, the bench said.
"We consider it fit to penalise the state government for the inaction," the bench added and imposed the cost which should be paid to the mediation and conciliation centre on high court campus in two weeks.
Posting the matter to July 11, the judges said the report should be placed before the court at least three days before that date.
Amicus curiae Mohan, who had originally suggested the external audit, filed a memo stating that renowned wildlife film maker Shekar Dattatri had been nominated to conduct a third party audit. Referring to the government's claim that turtle mortality had come down compared to previous years, Mohan said the report, however, did not have any data on turtle mortality and nesting.
He said details such as turtle-saving TED nets and the number of trawlers using such nets too were required.
The amicus curiae also referred to the government's claim that only 30% nesting occurred along the coasts of Orissa and Tamil Nadu this year, perhaps due to cyclonic storms on the east coast. It might have interfered with turtle breeding and migration, the report said. Data for such conclusions were, however, still awaited, Mohan said.
The suo motu PIL proceedings had led to introduction of TED nets which have exit mechanism for turtles that accidentally get caught in fishing nets.