Thirumulpad Vs. Union of India & Others
[I. A. Nos. 1433 and
1477 of 2005 in Writ Petition (C) No. 202 of 1995]
J U D G M E N T
Wild Buffalo is reported to be the most impressive and magnificent animal in
the world. Often it is found in the Western and Eastern Ghats of the country. Learned
Amicus Curiae has moved this Court seeking a direction to the Union of India and
the State of Chhattisgarh to prepare a rescue plan to save Wild Buffalo, an
endangered specie from extinction and to make available necessary funds and resources
required for the said purpose and also for a direction to take immediate steps to
ensure that interbreeding between the wild and domestic buffalo does not take
place and the genetic purity of the wild species is maintained.
Direction was also
sought for to prepare a scheme in consultation with the villagers for relocation
of villagers from the Udanti Sanctuary to ensure the survival of the endangered
wild buffalo. Direction was also sought for that all research and monitoring inputs
including scientific management of the wild buffalo and its habitat be made
available on long term basis by involving institutes such as the Wildlife
Institute of India, the Bombay Natural History Society etc.
State of Chhattisgarh filed its reply affidavit on 30.01.2006 explaining the steps
taken to conserve and preserve the endangered species which was declared as a State
Animal. Along with the affidavit, a comprehensive operational Management Plan for
Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary was also enclosed stating that the execution of the said
Management Plan had suffered setbacks due to acute financial shortage for its
Further, it was stated
that the funds allotted under Central Assistance from the Government of India,
Ministry of Environment and Forests was not in tune with the budget requirement
for development of the sanctuary and the conservation of the endangered
species. A chart showing shortfall in funds for the development of the sanctuary
has also been annexed with the affidavit, so also a table showing the census figures
of wild buffalos.
The reasons for the
decline of the wild buffalos have also been explained. In order to overcome
those hurdles, it was stated that an MoU was entered into with the Wildlife
Trust of India on 21.03.2005 which included special efforts for maintaining the
genetic purity of those species and for breeding thereof. Steps taken to
relocate the villagers residing within the sanctuary area has also been
Court on 08.09.2006 passed an order directing the Central Empowered Committee (CEC)
to conduct an enquiry and submit a report. Affidavit filed by the State was also
placed before the CEC and it had detailed discussions with the officials of the
State of Chhattisgarh and MoEF. State of Chhattisgarh constituted a task force by
its order dated 24.05.2007 for suggesting steps and formulating an action plan
for the conservation and increasing the number of wild buffalos in the State. Proposal
made by the Chief Wildlife Warden to replace the domestic buffalos reared by
the villagers with cows and bullocks it was stated, was also given active
consideration. CEC after consultation with the MoEF as well as the officials of
the State Government submitted its report on 10.09.2008.
taken by the State of Chhattisgarh to preserve and conserve the wild buffalo
which was declared as a State Animal is far from satisfactory. When the matter came
up for final hearing, the counsel appearing for the MoEF made available a copy of
the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of 2009 (CSS) titled "Integrated Development
of Wildlife Habitats". The Scheme was formulated during the Eleventh Five
Year Plan. The Scheme has also incorporated additional components and activities
for implementing the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 [for
short the Act], National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), recommendations of the
Tiger Task Force, 2005, and the National Forest Commission, 2006 and the necessities
felt from time to time for the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in the
coming into force of the Act, the scheme which was in force was
"Assistance for the Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries"
which used to support only National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. However, following
the amendment to the Act, in 2003, two more categories of Protected Areas (PAs)
i.e. the Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves have been recognized. Conservation
Reserves, which are government land, but do not require acquisition of rights,
nor the curtailment of activities as envisaged in National Parks and Wildlife
Sanctuaries are stated to be the most appropriate strategy for connecting protected
areas, by providing corridors.
Community Reserves are
entirely based on efforts of the local people on privately owned lands which require
financial and technical assistance for their future management. The Central Government
before the Act came into force did not have much control over the States and
the Union Territories for implementation of its various schemes and the
Parliament, in order to give effect to Article 51A(g), enacted the Act for the protection
of wild animals, birds and plants and for matters connected therewith, with a
view to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country. Article
48A of the Constitution of India imposes a duty on the State to protect and improve
the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.
51A(g) states that it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve
the natural environment including the wildlife and to have compassion for the living
creatures. By the 42nd Amendment Act 1976 of the Constitution
"Forests" was added as Entry 17A in the Concurrent List and the
"protection of wild animals and birds" was added as Entry 17B.
Consequently, both the Central and State Governments/UTs are mandated with the
responsibility of protection and conservation of wildlife and its habitat.
Chapter IV of the Act
deals with the "protected areas." Earlier headings `Sanctuaries',
`National Parks' and `Closed Areas', was substituted by the words
"protected areas" by Act 16 of 2003. Section 18 of the Act empowers the
State Government to declare its intention to constitute any area other than an area
comprised within any reserve forest or the territorial waters as a sanctuary if
it considers that such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological,
natural or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or
developing wildlife or its environment.
Chapter IV also confers
various other powers upon the State Government like acquisition, initiation of acquisition
proceedings, declaration of areas as sanctuary, restriction on entry to the
sanctuaries etc. It is unnecessary to refer to those provisions for the purpose
of the instant case.
36A of the Act empowers the State Government, after consultations with the
local communities, declare any area owned by the Government, particularly the areas
adjacent to National Parks and sanctuaries and those areas which link one
protected area with another, as a conservation reserve for protecting
landscapes, seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat.
The Act also empowers
the State Government, where the community or an individual has volunteered to conserve
wildlife and its habitat, declare any private or community land not comprised
within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, as a Community
Reserve, for protecting fauna, flora and traditional or cultural conservation
values and practice.
The management of Community
Reserves shall primarily be done by the communities/individuals themselves. The
Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), therefore, intended to bring these two
categories of PAs also under the ambit of the Scheme along with the existing
National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
State of Forest Report 2005 states that the forest and tree cover in the country
is around 23.39%, of which forests constitute around 20.64%. However, the PA
network covers only 4.8% of the geographical area of the country with most of the
PAs forming part of the forest area. At present, India has a network of 99 National
Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 43 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community
Reserves in different bio-geographic zones. Protected Areas, i.e. Conservation Reserves
and Community Reserves have an important role to play in maintaining
geographical integrity of the Nation.
Fact is that many important
habitats still exist outside those areas which require special attention from the
point of view of conservation. Habitat of Sandalwood, red sanders, white cedar,
rhododendrons, Southern Tropical Montane forests, grasslands, alpine meadows of
Himalayan region, corridors connecting PAs and crucial wildlife habitats, deserts,
tropical swamps, rivers, estuaries, bamboo and reed breaks, mangroves, coral reefs,
deserts etc. are examples of such habitats existing outside conventional PAs.
The tenurial status
of such habitats ranges from government-controlled Reserved Forests to Protected
Forests, revenue forests, interspersed vegetation in plantation sector, revenue
lands, village forests, private forests, religious forests, territorial waters,
Community Conserved Areas etc. Such habitats also act as corridors for wildlife
between PAs thus ensuring connectivity in the landscape. Human-wildlife
conflict is fast becoming a critical threat to the survival of many endangered
species, like wild buffalo, elephants, tiger, lion etc. such conflicts affect
not only its population but also has broadened environmental impacts on
ecosystem equilibrium and biodiversity conservation. Laws are man-made, hence there
is likelihood of anthropocentric bias towards man, and rights of wild animals often
tend to be of secondary importance but in the universe man and animal are
equally placed, but human rights approach to environmental protection in case of
conflict, is often based on anthropocentricity.
conflict often results not because animals encroach human territories but vice-versa.
Often, man thinks otherwise, because man's thinking is rooted in
anthropocentrism. Remember, we are talking about the conflict between man and
endangered species, endangered not because of natural causes alone but because
man failed to preserve and protect them, the attitude was destructive, for
pleasure and gain.
Often, it is said such
conflicts is due human population growth, land use transformation, species habitat
loss, degradation and fragmentation, increase in eco-tourism, access to natural
reserves, increase in livestock population, etc. Proper management practices have
to be accepted, like conservation education for local population, resettlement of
villages, curbing grazing by livestock and domestic animals in forest, etc., including
prey-preservation for the wild animals. Provision for availability of natural water,
less or no disturbance from the tourists has to be assured.
State also has to take
steps to remove encroachments and, if necessary, can also cancel the patta already
granted and initiate acquisition proceedings to preserve and protect wildlife
and its corridors. Areas outside PAs is reported to have the maximum number of
man-animal conflict, they fall prey to poachers easily, and often invite ire of
the cultivators when they cause damage to their crops. These issues have to be
scientifically managed so as to preserve and protect the endangered species, like
wild buffalo and other species included in Schedule 1 Part 1 of the Wildlife
Protection Act, as well as other species which face extinction.
plan for Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary (2002-2003, 2011-2012) published by the Forest
Department of Government of Chattisgarh, paragraph 3.6.2 of the Report reveals much
more than what meets the eyes which reads as follows:- "Prior to declaration
as sanctuary this area was part of East Raipur Division in which rules to
regulate illegal poaching and hunting existed. Before declaration of Govt. forest
it was under control of Bindrawagrah Zameendar. In those days shooting was
allowed after receiving a fee of Rs.25/- at that time. Shooting of wild buffalo
was prohibited after Govt. Notification no.1905-1517-4 dt. 27.08.1935 but in this
zameendari one shooting licence holder was entitled to shoot one Bison, one Barasingha,
Tow spotted deer and one Sambhar. Game rules of C.P. and Bear Game Act, 1935
and CP & Bear Bird game 1942 were existing in this are during past.
After end of Zameendari
system when these forest became Govt. forest rules were enforced to regulate hunting
vide notification no.788-2319 DT.19.8.53. In these shooting rules of 1953 shooting
of wild Buffalo was allowed after formal permission of Govt. But shooting of
bison was prohibited. In shooting rules of 1955 different fee was decided for
hunting. Shooting of Bison, wild buffalo, Barasingha, Tiger, Sambhar, Leopard, Sloth
Bear and Cheetal were allowed. These hunting rules were not very effective for regulation
of shooting and hunting and therefore shooting was stopped by Govt. of M.P.
completely vide notification no. 6036-10(2)-71 dt. Govt. of India in this regard
started 11.11.1971. Effective steps after enforcement of wildlife protection
22.214.171.124 deals with encroachment and other illegal activity, which reads as
follows :- Encroachment and other Illegal activity In UWLS encroachment for
land hunger is not common practice. Sometime due to lack of clearcut
demarcation live or boundaries, cases of encroachment have been observed. Therefore,
village boundary should be development of villages and for the betterment of villagers
in the revenue villages inside and around the sanctuary.
These department are revenue,
ICDS, Veterinary Health Services, Medical Department, State Electricity Board etc.,
semi Govt. village institutions like village and Janpad Panchayat are also working
for development activities. More development activity causes more interference in
forest and the privacy of wild life. These ultimately cause conflict with
wildlife. Conflict with wildlife to the abnormal behaviour of wild animals like
aggressiveness of monkey, cattle lifting by carnivore, injury by bears during
Mahua season etc. Development of people is always welcome but not in the cost
of negative ecological in the ecosystem.
clearly states that development activities causes more interference in forest
and also the privacy of wildlife and these ultimately cause conflict with wildlife.
Man-animal conflict often takes place when wild animals cause damage to
agricultural crop and property, killing of livestock and human beings.
Human population growth,
land use transformation, species loss of habitat, eco-tourism, too much access to
reserves, increase in livestock population bordering the forest, depletion of
natural prey base etc., often stated to be reasons for such conflict. Central
Govt. the State Governments, and the Union Territories should evolve better preservation
strategies, in consultation with Wildlife Boards so that such conflicts can be
avoided to a large extent. Participation of people who are staying in the
Community Reserves is also of extreme importance. The necessity of implementing
proper management measures for preserving the wild buffalo has also been
elaborately stated in the Report.
justice could be achieved only if we drift away from the principle of
anthropocentric to ecocentric. Many of our principles like sustainable development,
polluter-pays principle, inter-generational equity have their roots in anthropocentric
principles. Anthropocentrism is always human interest focussed and non-human has
only instrumental value to humans.
In other words, humans
take precedence and human responsibilities to non-human based benefits to humans.
Ecocentrism is nature centred where humans are part of nature and non-human has
intrinsic value. In other words, human interest do not take automatic
precedence and humans have obligations to non-humans independently of human
interest. Ecocentrism is therefore life-centred, nature-centred where nature
include both human and non-humans. National Wildlife Action Plan 2002-2012 and
centrally sponsored scheme (Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats) is
centred on the principle of ecocentrism.
National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) is intended to provide adequate protection
to wildlife in multiple use areas such as Government forests outside PAs, various
Community Conserved Areas like sacred groves, community and panchayat forests,
identified private forests such as interspersed forests in tea, coffee and cardamom
gardens and other protection landscapes, farm lands, wastelands, wetlands, coastal
habitats, heronries, wintering wetlands of birds, catchment forests, turtle
nesting sites, pastures for livestock and wild herbivore, deserve ecosystems
etc. Recovery Programmes
Centrally Sponsored Scheme also deals with Recovery programmes for saving
critically endangered species and habitats. It was noticed that, due to variety
of reasons, several species and their habitats have become critically endangered.
Consequently, the scheme intends to extend support to such recovery programmes
for saving critically endangered species and their habitat based on the
requirement felt from time to time. The objective of this recovery plan of saving
critically endangered species/ecosystems cannot be covered under the components
of Conservation of PAs and protection of wildlife outside PAs as disjunct population
across a wider landscape/seascape. Several programmes are proposed under the
recovery plan, of which one is to save the critically endangered species of
Asian Wild Buffalo and grasslands and riverine forests of central and north
India. Several other components were also included in the recovery plan such as
Dolphin and River Systems, Nilgiri Tahr, Asiatic Lion etc.
The scheme envisages
that the Director, Wildlife Preservation, Government of India, in consultation
with the Wildlife Institute of India or the relevant scientific institute/organization
and with the approval of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife
can initiate other recovery programmes or wind up the ongoing programme. The Director,
Wildlife Preservation, is also authorised to undertake assessment of the effectiveness
of any `recovery programme' already undertaken or being undertaken.
The Integrated Development
of Wildlife Habitats scheme specifically highlighted the necessity to preserve
and conserve the habitat of wild buffalo. The scheme states as follows: "Wild
buffalo is one of the worst affected mammalian species in the recent times. Domestication
of the species and continuous interbreeding with domestic buffalo has led to inbreeding,
genetic disorders, competition and mortality due to disease. Apart from this, habitat
fragmentation, degradation, and poaching are the main threats to the conservation
of this globally threatened species. Urgent and concerted efforts are needed to
recover this species from the brink of extinction."
and Management of Wildlife, as per the Act, is primarily vested in the States /
UTs who are in physical possession of the area. It was noticed that many States/UTs
have set up various regular wildlife wings within the States/UT Forest Departments
and implemented a scheme as to be done in accordance with a work programme
covering the 11th Plan period.
The Centrally Sponsored
Scheme, therefore, envisages that the State/UTs are required to submit Annual Plan
of Operations (APOs) to the Central Government detailing the proposed course of
action, which consists of management planning and capacity building, anti-poaching
and infrastructure development, restoration of habitats, eco-development and
community oriented activities etc. so as to qualify for the financial assistance
under the scheme. The concerned State/UTs have to follow certain conditions
which have been enumerated in the scheme.
State of Chhattisgarh, in the instant case, has pointed out that they could not
effectively give effect to some of the programmes for preservation and
conservation of wild buffalo due to lack of funds. The scheme envisages 100%
assistance. It is relevant to extract the Pattern of Funding and the same reads
as follows: Pattern of Funding 7 Under the Scheme, 100% assistance is provided for
non-recurring items of expenditure for National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation
Reserves and Community Reserves. 7 50% cost of recurring expenditure is provided
for National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves
where the State Government provides for the balance 50% as the matching share. 7
National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and community
Reserves in mountain regions, coastal zones, deserts, or those areas which support
highly endangered species i.e. Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Rhino, Sangai Deer, Phayre's
leaf monkey, Musk Deer, Hangul, Great Indian Bustard, Great Indian Hornbill,
Siberian Crane, Chinkara, Chowsingha, Black Buck, Marine Turtles, Nilgiri Tahr,
Lion Tailed Macaque, Bustards, Floricans, Pelicans, Gyps Vultures, Wild Ass, Grizzled
Giant Squirrel, Clouded Leopard, Wild Buffalo, Hoolock Gibbon and Lion are eligible
for 100% central assistance for both recurring and non- recurring items of
In the case National Parks,
Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reservation and Community Reserves falling in
the high mountainous, snow clad regions (where working season is limited to a few
months) in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and
Sikkim, the central assistance shall be given in one installment. For other States,
the approved allocation shall be released in two installments (80 per cent as
1st installment and balance as 2nd installment.)
Similarly, subject to
site-specific adjustments, as a guiding principle, a 40:40:20: proportion of
financial sharing shall be ensured between Centre, State as owners of the privately
held land, when such areas are involved in the case of Community Reserves.
of Chattisgarh has maintained the stand that they do not have sufficient funds to
undertake various programmes for protection of wild buffalo within the national
parks, sanctuaries and also at conservation reserves and community reserves. This
stand cannot be countenanced now, especially after the introduction of the
buffalo has been included as Item No. 41, Part I of Schedule I of the Act. Once
it is included in Schedule I, the State Board for Wildlife has to advise the
State Government in the selection and management of the areas to be declared as
protected areas, in the formulation of policy for protection and conservation
of the wildlife etc., as per Section 8 of the Act. Section 9 of the Act states
that no person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedule I to IV, except
as provided under Sections 11 and 12.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has calculated the percentage
of endangered species as 40% of all organisms. IUCN Red List refers to specific
categories of endangered species and includes critically endangered species.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species uses the term endangered species as a
specific category of imperilment, rather than as a general term. Under the IUCN
Categories and Criteria, endangered species is between critically endangered and
Wild water buffalo is
included in the category of endangered species. Apart from the human-animal
conflict, the most important threat to wild buffalo is inbreeding with feral
and domestic buffalo, habitat loss/degradation and hunting. Diseases and parasites
(transmitted by domestic livestock) and competition for food and water between
wild buffalo and domestic stock are also serious threats. Habitat loss is also a
major concern for species endangerment. When wild buffalos' eco-system is not
maintained, they lose their home and either forced to adopt new surroundings or
human habitat. Eminent ecologists have proposed biological corridors, biosphere
reserves, ecosystem management and eco-regional planning as approaches to
integrate biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development at
increasingly larger spatial scales.
have seen the subjects `forest' and `protection of animals and birds' are in the
concurrent list of the Constitution and it is the fundamental duty of every
citizen of India under Article 51A(g) of the Constitution to protect and
improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife. It
is to achieve the above objective and also to give effect to the purpose of the
object of the Act that the Central Government has sponsored "the
Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats".
As per the Scheme and
the Act, the State Government is empowered to notify conservation reserves and
community reserves for protecting the landscape, seascapes, flora and fauna and
their habitat. The Act also empowers the State Government to declare any
private and community land not comprised within the national parks, sanctuaries
or conservation reserves or community reserves for protecting fauna, flora and
traditional or cultural conservation values and practice.
are, therefore, inclined to dispose of this application with the direction to
the State of Chhattisgarh to give effect fully the Centrally Sponsored Scheme -
"the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats", so as to save wild
buffalo from extinction. The State also would take immediate steps to ensure that
interbreeding between wild and domestic buffalos does not take place and genetic
purity of the wild species is maintained. The State is also directed to take
immediate steps to undertake intensive research and monitor the wild buffalo
population in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary and other areas, where the wild buffalo
may still be found, including preparing them their genetic profile for future
The State is also
directed to take appropriate steps to initiate wildlife training programmes for
the officials of the State Forest Department, especially for managing the above
sanctuary and other areas where the wild buffalos are found. The State is also
directed to submit Annual Plan of Operations to the Central Government
detailing the proposed course of action, if not already done, as per the "Integrated
Development of Wildlife Habitats" scheme, within a period of three months
from today. All effective steps should be taken by the State to protect the
Asian wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), which is declared as a State animal by the
State of Chattisgarh.
applications are disposed of as above.
(Chandramauli Kr. Prasad)