Wed, 25 May 2022

New Delhi [India], May 13 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre and others on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to create an effective mechanism for safety testing of the drugs on wild scavenging birds before launching New NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in the open market.

The plea sought direction to the respondents to promote the use of Meloxicam (Salt Formula) for veterinary use as the same poses no risk to the vulture and also sought direction to constitute a monitoring committee to check and supervise that toxic NSAIDs are not in use in the open market.

The Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla on Friday asked the respondents to examine the issues raised by the petitioner and sought the response of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization National Biodiversity Authority, Indian Veterinary Research Institute and Bombay Natural History Society. The court listed the matter for August 24, for a hearing in the matter.

Petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal, practising Advocate and Civil Rights activist sought the issuance of direction to introduce an effective system to collect dead vultures for analyzing purposes and to ascertain the cause of mortality.

The plea also seeks respondents to check the toxicity of NSAIDs available in the market and if found toxic ban the manufacturing, distribution, retail formulation, injectable formulation and use of bolus of the same by way of evoking Section 26A of the Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

The plea seeks court intervention regarding the protection and conservation of the vultures in India as they are now listed as critically endangered by IUCN and are also placed in the Schedule -1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act - 1972 which is the highest category of endangerment.

The plea further submitted that nine species of vultures are recorded from India of which five belong to the genus GYPS. Three Gyps vultures, namely Oriental White-backed vulture, Long-Billed vulture and Slender Billed vulture are residents, and the remaining two i.e. Eurasian Griffon and Himalayan Griffon are largely wintering species and a small population breeds in the Himalayas.

The plea further states that the cause of the population decline of vultures in India is the veterinary use of NSAIDs in livestock. NSAIDs have analgesic, anti-arthritic and antipyretic properties and as such are used to treat a wide variety of common ailments in domestic ungulates (cow, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, etc), said the plea.

Petition submitted that there are many NSAIDs that are available in the market and are used in veterinary for domestic ungulates. The plea also submitted that vultures are exposed to a toxic level of NSAIDs when they feed on carcasses of livestock that have died within a few days of treatment, and which contain residues of the said NSAIDs.

The plea submitted that vultures are an integral part of our ecosystem as they play a major role in cleaning dead carcasses in a short period of time.

According to the petition diclofenac drug has been used in India extensively in veterinary for domestic ungulates and was responsible for the sharp decline in the vulture population in the country, in the year 2006, the government of India banned diclofenac for veterinary use throughout the country by way of invoking its power under section 26 A of drugs and cosmetic act.

However, despite the diclofenac ban in 2006, things have not improved much for the following two reasons (a) Illegal sale of human diclofenac for veterinary use is still rampant in India (b) Increased use of toxic NSAIDs like aceclofenac and ketoprofen, nimesulide, etc. It is clear from the above that banning diclofenac alone is of no use, if the respondents are not going to ban other toxic NSAIDs like aceclofenac and nimesulide, ketoprofen, the plea stated. (ANI)

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