NGT notice to MoEF on disease affecting Himalayan blue sheep

A mysterious disease affecting the Himalayan blue sheep in the Gangotri National Park in Uttarakhand has caught the attention of the National Green Tribunal which has sought response from the environment ministry and other authorities on the issue.

A bench headed by Acting NGT chairperson Justice U D Salvi issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, National Biodiversity Authority, Uttarakhand government and Uttarakhand State Biodiversity Board while seeking their reply before February 9.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal seeking shifting of the infected animals, locally known as Bharal, from the national park to a safer place.

According to the plea, in September this year, a group of BSF officers, who were camping at the Kedar Tal area of the Gangotri National Park, spotted several Himalayan blue sheep with their eyes popping out and bleeding.

"During the camping activity, one of the officer found several blue sheep with their eyes popping out or bleeding or eye socket empty. He took photographs of some of the infected blue sheep.

"The applicant also came to know that the BSF officer had informed the state forest department about the condition of the prevailing disease in the blue sheep, but it has failed to take proper measures to prevent and control the spreading of the disease," the plea alleged.

It said that according to the National Wildlife Action Plan, 2017-2031 issued by the environment ministry, the infectious disease was a concern not only to humans but wildlife species.

It, however, said the authorities were not taking any action to protect the animals.

"In order to eradicate the disease, there was an urgent need to establish and strengthen the centres for wild life rehabilitation and disease surveillance in and around the protected areas," it said.

The petitioner has sought setting up of a high-level team to inspect the national park and formulate appropriate an action plan for the conservation of eco-system and bio- diversity of the ecologically-sensitive area.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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