Gujarat High Court Slams Forest Dept, Railways For Inaction On Asiatic Lion Deaths

Gujarat High Court Slams Forest Dept, Railways For Inaction On Asiatic Lion Deaths

The court's scathing remarks came during a hearing regarding the deaths of two lions struck by trains in the Gir forest area in January this year

Melvyn ThomasUpdated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 04:12 PM IST
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Gujarat High Court | File

The Gujarat High Court sharply criticized the Forest Department and the Railways on Tuesday for their lack of proactive measures in preventing the deaths of Asiatic lions caused by train collisions. The court's scathing remarks came during a hearing regarding the deaths of two lions struck by trains in the Gir forest area in January this year.

While the authorities presented a new standard operating procedure (SOP) aimed at curbing such incidents, the judges expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed plan. The SOP outlines reduced train speeds within forest zones (30 mph), a halt on nighttime train movement, and a speed limit of 40 kmph for broad gauge sections between Pipavav-Surendranagar and Mahuva-Rajula, located outside the immediate Gir sanctuary.

Guj High Court raises concerns about Forest Department's inaction

However, the court raised concerns about the Forest Department's inaction in investigating the January lion deaths. The bench, led by Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Anirudhaa Mayee, pointed out the department's failure to submit a mandatory inquiry report despite a previous court order.

Justice Agarwal expressed strong disapproval of the government's apparent reliance on court intervention to take action. "We are not 'darogajis' (police inspectors)," she stated, emphasizing the Forest Department's fundamental responsibility for wildlife protection. "Please don't make us a 'daroga' for this. This is not done, not acceptable at all," she added. The court directed the chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and the divisional railway manager of Bhavnagar to submit sworn statements by April 23rd. These affidavits must explain the reasons behind the lack of action before the court's intervention. Additionally, the court mandated the immediate implementation of the proposed SOP.

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