The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Centre to examine a petition raising concerns over the decline in vulture population and asked it take measures to save the bird that is an important link in the food chain.
The petition alleged that a veterinary drug, Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), is causing this decline. The drug, says the petition, is used in livestock and when vultures feed on livestock's carcasses, they are exposed to toxic levels of the drug.
A high court bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and also comprising Justice Navin Chawla issued notice to the Centre, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, the National Biodiversity Authority, the Indian Veterinary Research Institute as well as the Bombay Natural History Society on the public interest litigation by lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal and sought their response.
It said, “We direct respondent 1-3 (Centre) to examine the aspect raised by the petitioner in the petition and take whatever measures that are called for to save vultures which are an important link in the food chain and are essential for maintaining the environment. Response be filed in four weeks."
The petitioner sought the protection and conservation of vultures and claimed that there are certain veterinary drugs in the market which are harmful and toxic to these birds and yet no serious efforts have been made by the authorities till date to ban them.
The PIL said, “The major cause and perhaps the only cause of the population declines of vultures in India is the veterinary use of the NSAIDS in live stock. Vultures are exposed to toxic level of NSAIDS when they feed on carcasses of livestock which have died within a few days of treatment, and which contain residues of the said NSAIDS.”
The petitioner stated that vultures are a threatened species under the Biological Diversity Act and there is a need to not only ban the toxic drugs but also create an effective mechanism for the safety testing of new molecules before they are introduced for veterinary and human use.
According to the Bombay Natural History Society, population of Oriental White Backed Vulture and Long Billed Vultures had declined by more than 92 per cent between 1991 and 1993 and also in 2000. As per one more study, by the year 2007 the population of vultures had declined by an astonishing 99.9 per cent for Oriental White Backed Vulture and Long Billed Vultures, said the PIL.
The petition also emphasised that losing vultures could be catastrophic to any ecosystem and that the birds are significant to Hindu as well as Zoroastrian religions.
(With PTI inputs)