Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Monday demanded strict action against the erring officials of the forest department for not following the Wildlife Protection Act in the case of 15 ducklings which allegedly died while in possession of the department of forest and wildlife.
People for Animals (PFA) had rescued a total of 15 Australian ducklings worth around Rs 7 lakh on September 15, which were allegedly being brought to Sector 61 for sale by two unidentified persons who managed to escape. The police had registered a case against an unknown person under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Gandhi, who was in the city on the inaugural day of the Regional Editors’ Conference, said that the officials responsible for the death of ducklings should be suspended and put behind bars. “It’s a serious issue and I will pursue it with the UT Administrator,” she said.
She also met UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore and took up the issue. According to sources, the administrator assured her of appropriate action.
The forest department has issued a show-cause notice to four employees, including deputy conservator of forests (DCF), for taking 15 ducklings in possession without informing the superiors. Chief conservator of forest Santosh Kumar issued the show-cause notice to deputy conservator of forests, forest ranger, foresters and forest guard.
Confirming the development, Kumar said that all the officials had been asked to give details of the sequence of events and reasons for taking the birds in their possession without keeping senior officials in the loop.
Chetan Sharma, PFA president, Punjab, had lodged a complaint with the UT Administrator on September 20. In his complaint, Chetan had stated that he was told by officials of the department that the ducklings had died. PFA demanded action against UT chief wildlife warden Santosh Kumar. A day after the complaint, the department of forest and wildlife released photographs of the ducklings. The department also rubbished the claims of PFA that the ducklings were Australian. They claimed they were handed over Indian comb ducklings.