Pointing out to the decline in the population of dugong, a nature lover from Madurai has moved the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday seeking a direction to the Centre and State government to declare a 400 sq.km stretch from Adirampattinam in Thanjavur district and Ammapattinam in Pudukkottai district on the Palk Bay as a Dugong Conservation Reserve.
The petitioner, K. Pushpavanam from Madurai, a law student, said according to data available on the website of Wildlife Institute of India, there were only 200 dugongs in Indian waters. Proper conservation was the only way to save them from extinction. They formed an integral part of the marine ecosystem, he said.
India was a signatory to the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had constituted a ‘Task Force for Conservation of Dugongs.’ However, despite the conservation measures, it was unfortunate that dugongs and the their habitat were under threat. Human activities leading to destruction or modification of habitat, pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, vessel hits, hunting and unstructured tourism activities were posing a threat to the dugongs.
In 2019, the Wildlife Institute of India sent a proposal to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to declare the 400 sq.km stretch of Palk Bay as a Conservation Reserve for Dugongs. This proposal must be accepted and the stretch from Adirampattinam to Ammapattinam should be declared a Dugong Conservation Reserve, he said.
Taking up the public interest litigation petition for hearing, a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam suo motu impleaded the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as respondent and ordered notice to the Centre and the State. The case was adjourned for further hearing to August 28.
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