21 Nov 2023 10:31 AM GMT
The Telangana High Court has declined to expedite the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation challenging the project of establishing India’s largest Aqua Marine Park and Aviary at Kothwalguda, Hyderabad.“Nowadays PILs have become ‘Personal Interest litigations.’ There is no urgency in the matter. If you want to Stay, you deposit the project amount. This is a frivolous litigation,”...
The Telangana High Court has declined to expedite the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation challenging the project of establishing India’s largest Aqua Marine Park and Aviary at Kothwalguda, Hyderabad.
“Nowadays PILs have become ‘Personal Interest litigations.’ There is no urgency in the matter. If you want to Stay, you deposit the project amount. This is a frivolous litigation,” the Division Bench of Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice N.V. Shravan Kumar noted.
The PIL was filed way back in May before the Bench of the then Chief Justice, Ujjal Bhuyyan (who has since been elevated to the Supreme Court). Justice Bhuyyan too had shown reluctance to fast-track the matter, stating that the project would be a major tourist attraction not only within the State but in the whole of India, and a thorough inquiry into the allegations is needed.
On the 17th (Friday) the Division Bench also declined to accept the plea for expedited hearing.
The petitioners who are environmental activists and concerned citizens claim that the Marine Aqua Park and Aviary are being established in gross violations of the provisions of Article 21, 51(g) and 48A of the Indian Constitution and Section 11 (e) and (g) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and has the potential of disrupting the Environment, Animal Life and Human Life.
The counsel on behalf of the petitioners P. Sree Ramya contended that because animals do not reproduce well in captivity, they are often sourced from the wild. Most species of fish are sourced from the wild, which disrupts the ecosystem along with putting pressure on its extremely fragile functioning and a majority of the fish sourced from the wild are unable to survive due to the immense pressure of being displaced. She contended that to compensate for the high mortality rate, collectors acquire two or three times more fish than necessary.
The petitioners have also condemned the practice of Cyanide and Blast Fishing in the petition, and claim that 85% of all captured sea life that is being displayed in aquariums is caught through this method. Reports by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Geographic have been filed to support the claim and throw light on the negative effects such kind of fishing has.
“This method involves crushing and dissolving highly toxic sodium cyanide in squirt bottles to stun fish, making them easier to capture. Blast fishing, another harmful practice, involves using explosives and dynamites to indiscriminately kill and catch reef fish. This practice not only increases the death toll but also devastates coral reef colonies. The impact of even the smallest blast shatters fragile coral reefs, killing coral tissues, and the resulting debris on the seafloor obstructs coral colonies from recovering.” The petition read.
The petitioners have also condemned the practice of captive breeding of birds stating that birds bred in captivity are selectively bred to increase their aesthetic appeal and have no resemblance to their wild counterparts. Adding to that, it was contended that the selection factor shifts from traits necessary for survival to traits that are advantageous for captivity, which disrupts the natural process of evolution.
The petitioners also contended that many of the birds that were going to be kept on display in the aviary may be migratory birds and would be restricted from following their natural instinct to migrate. Which, would make them restless, a phenomenon known as Zugunruhe.
It was further urged that for the maintenance of a Marine Park regular water changes would be required, which would inevitably strain the local water sources. Moreover, it was contended that, the shallow nature of these tanks are ill-suited accommodate huge sea animals that are used to cruising the free oceans.
The petition also speaks about the ‘touch tanks’ the park is going to introduce which would deprive the marine animals of their freedom and privacy leading to stress and discomfort. The petition also pointed to a number of incidents that took place in the USA, Canada and New Mexico, where similar touch tanks caused the death of many stingrays.
The petitioners urged that keeping animals in captivity had irreversible and degrading effects on the animal’s mental health a phenomenon that even had a term coined for it “Zoochosis”
“…In December 2011, the Union Ministry for Environment & Forests instructed the state government of Maharashtra not to consider the proposal for constructing Dolphinariums or Water Parks in Sindhurdurg through Private Public Partnership (PPP)…In May 2013, the Ministry of Environment & Forests rejected all proposals to establish dolphinariums in any location across India”
In closing, the petitioners cited various judgments passed by the Supreme Court and vehemently contended that as humans a duty is cast upon us to safeguard the well-being of our planet and prioritize initiatives that promote wildlife conservation, habitat preservation, and education on biodiversity's importance. It was urged that considerable financial resources required for this aquarium should be redirected towards ocean protection and meaningful conservation methods, so that, contributions can be made towards the well-being of marine life and the preservation of our natural resources.
W.P.(P.I.L) No: 37 of 2023
Counsel for petitioner: P. Sree Ramya