‘Translocation taken up to protect animal’
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) on Tuesday told the Madras High Court that as many as 497 spotted deer had died in urban localities in and around Chennai city in the last five years due to threats like electric lines, stray dogs, pollution, solid waste intake, drinking sewage water, motor vehicle accidents and so on.
The officer informed a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee that it was because of such alarming situation, the forest department had decided to translocate the vulnerable deer roaming around in unsafe urban localities to their natural forest habitats in accordance with the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
The submissions were made in a counter affidavit filed by the PCCF Sanjay Kumar Srivastava in reply to a public interest litigation petition filed by animal lover S. Muralidharan of Chennai. The petitioner had urged the court to restrain the forest officials from translocating the deer from Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) campus here.
Additional Government Pleader (Forests) S.V. Vijay Prashanth brought it to the notice of the court that the Guindy Park Reserve Forest originally spread over 513.75 hectares had now shrunk to just half the size due to allocation of the land for various institutions that had cropped in the locality over the years.
In 1961, a little more than 172 hectares was reserved for the purpose of establishing the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and in 1970 more than eight hectares was given to Guru Nanak College. Similarly, 2.51 hectares was given to the Cancer Institute in 1977 and 7.32 hectares was handed over to the Public Works Department for various memorials.
Out of the rest of 340.84 hectares, 270.57 hectares was declared as Guindy National Park in 1978 and 59.16 hectares was earmarked for the Raj Bhavan. The wild spotted deer have got trapped in these developments that had taken place over the years and had begun to lose their lives due to unnatural causes, the PCCF said.
Claiming that the forest department had experts who carry out around 6,000 wildlife rescue works in urban areas, he said, there was an imminent necessity to translocate the deer since as many as 32 deer had died in CLRI campus alone in the last five years due to reasons such as unregulated motor vehicle traffic, solid waste and sewage water, his affidavit read.
Further, 316 spotted deer and many black buck had lost their lives in the IIT-M campus due to similar reasons. “All these institutions and open areas of Chennai are no more the natural habitats for spotted deer and they have to be essentially shifted to suitable forest areas,” the officer asserted.