Panel had inquired into charges of mismanagement in recording animal deaths.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) has “decided” to shift administrative control of the National Zoological Park (NZP) in Delhi to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), The Indian Express has learnt.
The move was recommended by a ‘high-level committee’ formed by the ministry to look into various issues reported at the NZP, including allegations of mismanagement in recording deaths of wild animals and their illegal procurement.
“In pursuance of recommendations of the… committee… and with approval of the competent authority, the MOEF&CC has decided to shift administrative control of NZP,” said Joint Director (Wildlife) Dr R Gopinath in a letter dated June 18 to the CZA member secretary.
It added, “This would enable establishment of a single line of control amongst the NZP, CZA and MOEF&CC.”
In the letter, Dr Gopinath also said the CZA is directed to set up a governing body by forming a society under its control.
Dr Gopinath could not be reached for a comment despite numerous attempts by The Indian Express Tuesday.
Delhi zoo director Renu Singh said a recommendation has been made to shift administrative control of the zoo by the high-level committee in its report. “I have not received a letter from MOEF&CC. However, a recommendation has been made in the report… It would have to be seen how this is implemented, considering our finances and the large number of animals we have,” she said, adding that the allegations investigated by the committee were from the tenure of previous zoo directors.
At present, the zoo director is the overall administrative head and reports to the inspector general and additional director general of wildlife at MOEF&CC.
The CZA was formed as a statutory body in 1992 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the authority. Its objectives include specifying minimum standards for the upkeep and veterinary care of animals in zoos, and recognising or derecognising zoos.
However, Dr D N Singh, former CZA member secretary, said the MOEF&CC does not have authority to assign control of a zoo to the CZA, which is a regulatory body. “Only the Parliament is allowed to do that after amending the (1972) Act,” he said, adding that he would write to the PM against the MOEF&CC’s decision.
Panel to look into drug procurement
The MOEF&CC has also “decided” to set up a committee to look into the procurement of tranquilising drugs at the zoo. It would comprise the joint director of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, veterinary doctor of Wildlife Institute of India Dehradun, and a CZA representative.
The move comes after allegations were made that a vial of Ketamine, a schedule ‘X’ drug, went missing from the zoo inventory.
The committee will examine irregularities in procuring tranquilising drugs and the role of two zoo officials in the same. It will submit a report to the ministry within 30 days of its formation.