Monday, January 21, 2008

Ministry directs DC to proceed
against circus owners
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, December 3
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has directed the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, to take action against the owners of Asian Circus for violating the Union Government notification which bar the exhibition and the training of certain animals.

In its DO letter no RKJ/2/2002-AWD, dated December 2, 2002, the ministry has mentioned that as per the gazette notification no 9-9/97-AW, dated October 14, 1998, no circus in India can exhibit bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions.

The letter further mentioned that if the violation of PCA Act, 1960, is found action against the circus may be taken as per Section 38 of the Act. The seized wild animals may be handed over to the Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, or his representative. The officer will thereafter make arrangements for their rehabilitation in rescue centres to which they will be transported, added the letter.

The ministry has acted following the complaint by the chairman of People for Animals, Haryana, Mr Naresh Kumar Kadyan.

In the presence of the media, Mr Kadyan with fellow colleagues visited Asian Circus, at present running in Gurgaon city, and found that the circus owns three lions.

Mr Satendra Gupta, manager of the circus, informed mediapersons that the Supreme Court had banned the display and training of Indian lions whereas Asian Circus owned three African lions.

They had also taken the stay order from the Allahabad High Court for keeping the three lions in the circus in Uttar Pradesh, added Mr Gupta. The manager further clarified that the circus was neither giving training to the banned animals nor displaying them to its viewers. All these three African lions were just kept in the cage, said the manager.

Mr Kadyan explained that the Supreme Court had banned all kinds of lions. No circus was authorised to keep lions, added the chairman of PFA.

Till late in the evening, the district administration had not taken any action against the circus. One of the officials from the office of the District Forest Officer-cum-Wildlife Warden said the department was willing to seize the animals but had no infrastructure to keep them.

The official further said the department had also no funds for executing such type of work.

Mr Kadyan said that People for Animals was ready to bear the expenses for seizing the banned animals and making arrangements for transporting them to the assigned destination.

The letter written by the ministry elaborated that Section 34 of the PCA Act 1960 empowers any police officer above the rank of a constable or any person authorised by the state government in its behalf, who has reason to believe that an offence against the Act has been or is being committed in respect of any animals, may, if in his opinion the circumstances so require, seize the animal and produce the same for the examination by the nearest magistrate or by such veterinary officer as may be prescribed, and such police officer or authorised person may, when seizing the animal, require the person in charge thereof to accompany it to the place of examination.

One of the animal lovers observed that the district administration may be busy in making arrangements for the Chief Minister’s scheduled visit tomorrow in the district.

Circus managers disappear, lions in tow
Abhay Jain

Gurgaon, December 4
The failure of the district administration to act in time and seize the three African lions of Asian Circus, presently running in Gurgaon, gave an opportunity to the circus owners to run away with the proscribed animals. On the complaint of an NGO, the People for Animals, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had directed the Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arurag Rastogi, on December 2 to take action against the Asian Circus for violating the Union Government notification, which bars exhibition and training of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions.

Yesterday, the representatives of People for Animals, the police department, the forest-cum-wild life department and the media inspected the circus and found the three African lions being exhibited during a show. However, the local administration did not respond with any urgency and seize the banned lions. Today, Wild Life Inspector, Mr Sultan Singh, And Sub-Inspector, Mr Shahid Khan, along with the chairman of People for Animals, Haryana, Mr Naresh Kumar Kadyan, inspected the circus and found all the three African lions missing. The owners, managers and other senior officials of the circus were also untraceable. In fact, the first show of the circus, which started at 1 p.m., ran as usual. While the show was on, the government officials read out a notice and appealed to the owners/managers of the circus to come forward and accept the same.

Eventually, at about 4 p.m., the wild life officials pasted a notice on the entrance gate of the circus. The notice states that “The circus has three African lions, which were seen on December 3. But today, these lions are missing.”

The owners of the circus have been directed to produce the ownership certificate of these lions. If they fail to do so, legal action would be initiated against them, warns the notice. The Conservator of Forests, South Circle, Gurgaon, whose office had pasted the notice, has also directed the circus owners to produce the ownership certificates of elephants in its custody.

After the notice was pasted, the second show, which was scheduled to start at 4 pm, was cancelled. The show was cancelled by the management of the circus and not by the police, it has been clarified.