By Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has turned down the proposal by the state forest and wildlife department for issuing licenses for hunting of wild animal blue bull (popularly known as ‘neel gai’), which has spread across the state and is a cause of severe damage to the crops in certain areas of the state.
Despite demand from the farmers across the state for permits for its hunting to check the menace, Badal deferred the decision about 10 days ago and no reason was sighted for the decision.
Apart from the damage to the crop, the animal is a cause of a number of fatal accidents on the roads.
As per the estimates of the department, the number of neel gai is increasing at a fast pace.
Their population has already touched a few lakhs, beyond the control of the wildlife authorities and has reached a stage of being declared vermin (harmful to crops and human population).
“Native of the Shivalik mountains, the animals came to the foothills in the kandi area and now they have reached up to Bathinda, Abohar and Fazilka areas,” said a wildlife officer, adding that the animal being herbivorous is dependent on crops.
“I think with the word ‘gai’ attached to the animals’ name, it invokes religious sentiments, which seems to be the reason behind the decision,” he added.
“They (neel gai) generally move in big groups and the crop is damaged when they pass through a field. We are getting complaints very frequently and farmers are demanding licences for culling of the animal,” the officer added.
The animal has found new habitat in abandoned SYL canal. The 120-km canal passes through Ropar, SAS Nagar and Patiala. The number of complaints of crop damage by blue bull is highest from these three districts.
The department allows hunting of the animal and permissions are granted by the sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) after demand is raised by the village panchayats. Hunting of the wild boar, which is also a threat to the crops, is allowed in similar manner, but no ban has been imposed on its hunting.
“The matter will now be discussed by the wildlife board, as the culling of the animal was stopped with its intervention,” said principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Kuldeep Kumar, adding that the animal population is growing massively. Permission for hunting of blue bull was given in 2004 during the Captain Amarinder Singh-led government, which later was withdrawn.