Published On: Thu, Mar 1st, 2018

NGT wants action plan over virus in Uttarakhand national park

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday asked the Uttarakhand government to formulate an action plan to tackle an unidentified virus infecting wildlife in Gangotri National Park.

Uttarakhand has failed to take proper action to prevent and control the disease

A bench, headed by Justice Jawad Rahim, said Uttarakhand has failed to take proper action to prevent and control the disease.

The virus reported from the park in Uttarkashi district was infecting the sheep due to which their eyes were popping out, officials said.

The Tribunal directed the National Biodiversity Board and the Uttarakhand government to jointly file the action plan within a week’s time to address the issue raised in the petition filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal.

“In case you fail to present an action plan within a week, you will be liable to pay a fine of Rs one lakh, which shall be deducted from the salaries of the officials concerned,” the bench said.

Observing the seriousness of the case, the NGT also made the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) a party in it.

The case first appeared in September 2017 after a year-old blue sheep was found infected and subsequently died.

After a petition was filed by Bansal, the Central and Uttarakhand governments were told to investigate the matter.

In February, the Uttarakhand Forest Department told the Tribunal that it spotted at least seven more Himalayan blue sheep with infection in the eyes due to an “unknown virus” at the national park.

Dhananjay Mohan, Assistant Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Uttarakhand, said: “This is the first such incident for us…

“It is unclear what exactly it is. We have contacted experts abroad where such cases were reported.”

Advocate Bansal feared that there are chances of the elusive snow leopard catching the virus as the mountain blue sheep is its main prey.

The Gangotri National Park is spread over 2,390 sq km and ranges at an altitude of 2,800 to 7,100 meters above sea level. The park will reopen for the public in April.

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