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HC directs Health & Forest dept secretaries to appear in court

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Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court today directed the Health and Forest Department Secretaries of Tamil Nadu government to appear in court on January 22, 2016, for not filing reports with regard to remedial measures taken to prevent animal borne health hazards in Western Ghats area.

"The state government has not filed the report despite our order dated July 29, 2015 and further time being granted on October 8, 2015. We have no option but to direct the personal presence of the relevant authorities," the First bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Pushpa Satyanarayana before which a PIL filed by one A R Gokulakrishan came up, said.

The bench had earlier directed the Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, and the Secretary, Department of Forest and Environment, to consider the representation of the petitioner to take all remedial steps to prevent animal-borne health hazard to people residing in the offshoots of Western Ghats area of the state in two months.

The First Bench, headed by the CJ, had earlier issued a notice to S Srinivasan, Assistant Solicitor General and S T S Moorthy, Government Pleader, to explain the steps taken to prevent animal-borne health hazards as the issue stated in the PIL was an important one.

The petitioner, a social activist living permanently in the area, submitted that Indian Gaurs which used to cause extensive damage to standing crops like coffee, tea, pepper, a special variety of hill banana, cardamom, beetroot and other crops, had started invading human settlements.

These not only threatened the very existence of plantation growers but also brought in and were spreading mysterious endemic diseases like rhipicephalus haemaphysaloides, babesiosis, anaplasmosisn and rocky mount spotted fever and causing severe itching.

He submitted that researchers have released papers claiming that ticks and lice which breed on the skin of Gaurs are the root cause of the diseases. He also referred to reports in national English dailies on information given by him.

The activist said more than 50 per cent of women and children suffer from sores caused by lice breeding on Gaurs.In this regard, experts from Institute of Microbiology, Madurai Medical College, and dermatologists and entomologists from the Joint Director, Institute of Vector Control and Zoonoses,Hosur had visited the area. Their May 4 2006 report confirmed the prevalence of endemic disease with more than 84 people being affected by it, he said.

He said unless some fruitful and permanent steps were taken on a war footing, grievances of those living in the offshoot of Western Ghats could not be ameliorated.

Though he had already made a representation to the state and the central government authorities on May 30, 2015, there was no response and so he was constrained to file the PIL.

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First Published: Nov 28 2015 | 9:22 PM IST

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