Two Union Ministers-Maneka Gandhi Prakash Javadekar-today locked horns over culling of animals with the former saying there was “lust” for killing in the Environment Ministry.
Javadekar, who is the Minister for Environment and Forests, on his part defended animal culling, insisting it is done on the request of states to protect crops.
The war of words was quickly seized upon by the opposition parties which alleged there was no teamwork or cohesion in the Modi government.
The outburst by Maneka, who holds the Women and Child Development portfolio and is an animal rights activist, came in the wake of the recent killing of ‘nilgai’ (blue bulls) in Bihar, which she termed as “biggest ever massacre”.
Maneka said the Union Environment Ministry “is writing to every state government, allowing them to provide a list of animals that can be killed so that the Centre can give permission.
“This is happening for the first time. I don’t understand this lust for killing of animals.”
However, Javadekar insisted that it was “scientific management” of animal population and the permissions for killing animals designated as ‘vermin’ were restricted to particular areas and time period.
Maneka claimed the Centre has allowed killing of ‘nilgai’ in Bihar, elephants in West Bengal, monkeys in Himachal Pradesh, peacocks in Goa and wild boars in Chandrapur even when the wildlife departments of states are saying they do not wish to kill animals.
On the ‘nilgai’ killing in Bihar, she said it has happened when neither the village head nor the farmers have called for their killing.
Responding to the charge, Javadekar said it is being done as per existing law and is not a central government programme.
“As per existing law when farmers face a lot of problems and their crops are completely damaged and when state government sends a proposal, only then we allow (culling) and grant approval to the state government’s proposal for a particular area and time period for scientific management.
“It is not a programme of the central government. The law is such,” he said.
Maneka said 53 wild boars have been killed in drought-hit Chandrapur in Maharashtra and the Environment
Ministry has allowed killing of 50 more, even when the state wildlife department does not want that.
“The Ministries do not have cohesion among them. This is not the first time such a thing is happening. All ministries are clashing and that is why work is stalled. There is lack of teamwork,” JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok said.
NCP spokesperson Rahul Narvekar said, “There is no synchronisation between various ministries of the government, thanks to one single person dictating terms. This is another example of bad governance.”