Illegal trade of turtle meat unveiled by Barabanki Police
The district police of Barabanki, UP arrested interstate turtle smugglers on July 27 and led to the uncovering of turtle meat trade for the very first time in the country. It may be mentioned here that there is a long infamous history of illegal turtle trade from central India to West Bengal for smuggling into Bangladesh and other countries.
SP Barabanki, Dr Aravind Chaturvedi contacted Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and developed intelligence about the illegal soft shell turtle smuggling from Amethi, Sultanpur, Raebareli, Barabanki, Bahraich, and nearby districts. A team led by Inspector Lonikatra, Ashok Kumar Yadav and SWAT team Sub-Inspector Sandeep Dubey successfully verified ground information supported by digital data regarding this trade. Based on specific input, the team intercepted a TATA Magic vehicle and arrested the aforementioned smugglers along with the illegal contraband. Upon opening the boxes, the police team was taken by surprise to find the finely chopped pieces of turtle meat kept in dry ice. Fishes were put as a top layer to disguise the consignment. On interrogation, the main accused Ramanand Bhagat confessed that he had good contacts in Bengali Settlements in Pyuria, Tanda, Joshi colony, Mala, Naujaria, Lagga-Bhagga, Chandiya, Hazara, etc where the meat could be consumed. Another accused, Guddu confessed that he had contacts with the local fishermen community who poach turtles for him and chop them in small pieces and pack with dry ice. He has divulged many names in different states where he used to supply such meat. As a part of strategy, they prefer to carry their transport, this illegal consignment, through the rural areas of Barabanki, Sitapur, Khiri to Pilibhit and Uttarakhand.
The team of TSA including regional director Dr Shailendra Singh, an expert on turtles Arunima Singh and their colleagues observed the recovered meat and leg pieces and found that it was of the Indian Soft-Shell Turtle, Zoological name Nilssonia Gangetica and its regional name, ‘Katahwa’. This comes under Schedule 1 species of Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and is declared vulnerable by IUCN (International Union for conservation of Nature). The samples will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for further forensic report.
It is noteworthy that out of the 29 species of turtles found in India, 16 are found in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Of these 16, extensive poaching has been reported for 8 species. Broadly, turtles can be divided into two categories, soft-shell and hard-shell. Soft-shell turtles are carnivorous and aggressive and are smuggled for their meat. Whereas, hard-shell turtles are vegetarians and submissive and are thus smuggled to be kept as pets. According to the latest Intelligence and crime statistics, living turtles are smuggled through West Bengal to Bangladesh and other countries for their illegal use and trade. Apart from this, soft-shell turtles found in the Ganga and Yamuna catchment area are smuggled for their Calipee (cartilage) by cutting it from their bodies and drying it. In 2015, such cases were brought to light for the first time by arrests and recoveries made by UP Special Task Force team led by Dr Aravind Chaturvedi, then Addl SP in STF.
Calipee is the protein rich cartilage of the abdominal region of the turtle and is in high demand as an ingredient for soup in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. While the consignments of hundreds and thousands of turtles killed for their Calipee have been caught by the UP STF and other LEA teams in the past, information regarding the smuggling of turtle meat was not known to the Police, Forest department, TSA or WCCB (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau) till now. Following this rather important recovery, a new challenge has risen for the Central agencies and NGOs because unlike the smuggling of live turtles, illegal trade of turtle meat is difficult to detect, trace and recover. WCCB Delhi headquarter has been informed about the same, and a pan-India alert will be soon issued. Case crime number 189/20 u/s 9/44B/51/51(1) Wildlife protection act of India, 1972 and 41/42 Indian Forest Act has been registered. The seized illegal meat has been burned as per the provisions of the said Act under concerned Court directives.
Name and address of the arrested accused: Ramanand Bhagat S/O Jatin bhagat R/O Kanakpur PS Kichha District Udham Singh Nagar(Uttrakhand); Guddu S/O Natthu R/O Semri PS Khiro District Raebareli; Vishal S/O Anokhe Lal R/O Babukhedha PS PGI District Lucknow; Rakesh S/O Bulaki R/O Babukhedha PS PGI District Lucknow; Kamlesh S/O Chhabeela R/O Barmankhedha PS Khiro District Raebareli and Salman S/O Mohd. Ahmad R/O Barauli(Near Utrethiya station) PS PGI District Lucknow. Seizure: 4 Thermocol boxes containing 120 kgs of Turtle Meat; 1 bag containing 2 hammers, 6 chisels, and 1 small screwdriver; 1 TATA Magic carrier vehicle, number: UP32 MN 7465 and1 TVS Victor Motorcycle, number: UP36 K 4076
SC allows filing of plea against environmental clearance given to new Parliament house
The Supreme Court has allowed the filing of a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution challenging the Environmental Clearance granted on June 17 for the construction of a new Parliament building as part of Union Government's ambitious Central Vista Project. A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar told Senior Advocate Shyam Divan that his clients would be given a week’s time to file the writ petition. The Centre has to file a reply to the plea within a week of receiving the same. The matter will be considered next on August 17. In March, the Supreme Court had transferred to itself the petitions pending in Delhi High Court challenging the Central Vista Project. When arguments commenced, the bench made it clear that it shall hear the issues pertaining to the aspects of the challenge to ‘Land Use’ only, as have been raised in the main batch of pleas. The pleas contend that 20th March notification of the government, which supersedes a Public Notice issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on 19 December, 2019, is a subjugation of the Rule of Law and judicial protocol as the 2019 notice is currently sub judice before the Supreme Court. With regard to the government’s Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista project, the DDA had issued a Public Notice inviting objections against proposed changes in land use in December 2019. This notification was challenged before the Delhi High Court on account of being ultra vires Section 11A of the Delhi Development Act 1957, as well as being beyond the powers of DDA to do so. It was further contested that the plan was not in conformity with the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 (MPD2021) and in violation of “larger laws of the country”. On March 6, a Bench comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari transferred the matter to itself. On March 20, 2020 the Centre notified a change in land use pertaining to approximately 86 acres of land in the heart of Lutyens Delhi, marked by structures like the Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block amongst others. The same petitioner then moved the apex court with a fresh plea against the Centre's notification. Urging the Court to quash the March 2020 notification issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the instant plea avers that the decision was in violation of a citizen's extended version of Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21. Calling it a brash move, the plea claims that it would deprive people of enjoying highly treasured open and green spaces. The plea further invokes Article 49 of the Constitution to assert that the State is obligated to protect places and objects of national importance.