By Ramesh Marulkar :
The lab will decide exact carnivore killing persons and submit test report within three weeks. At present, the report is awaited from other labs for more than three months, causing delay in the process
A Rs 2.74 crore DNA laboratory is coming at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali, to enable forest authorities get test report to know exactly the killer wild animal like tiger, leopard or other beast at earliest possible. This is the third such lab in the country as two labs exist at Hyderabad and Dehradun. The increasing man-animal conflict cases such as tigress killing 13 persons in Ralegaon-Pandharkawda and 10 persons by a leopard in Jalgaon last year prompted M K Rao, who was then Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Western Region, Borivali, submit a proposal to the government for setting up of the lab in Maharashtra.
The government sanctioned the proposal for establishment of DNA lab at Borivali, where building/infra-structure is readily available in the national park. The government issued a GR on Monday, sanctioning two posts of Assistant Director and Assistant Chemical Analyst for the lab as experts in extraction. Forest Department surrendered two posts of Divisional Forest Officer and Range Forest Officer for the purpose. The department will now float tenders for purchasing equipment and other materials for the lab in the near future. It is expected that the lab will start functioning in this financial year.
This was disclosed by Rao, who is now Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (IT, Policy), Nagpur, while talking to ‘The Hitavada’ on Monday. He said, in case of any carnivore killing two persons then the beast like tiger or leopard is declared as man-eater as per the SOP of National Tiger Conservation Authority. The department sends saliva/swab samples to the labs at Hyderabad and Dehradun but they take more than three months to get the analysis report.
After DNA test, the lab decides the exact species killing persons as well as it is male or female, he added. The Chief Wildlife Warden has to wait for getting analysis report from the lab to enable him issue hunting/shoot order of the killer tiger, leopard or other. Late arrival of the DNA report delays the process. If any NGO approaches to the High Court by filing Public Interest Litigation then the department has to provide proof about a particular animal killing the persons, he added. Borivali, the department can get DNA analysis report within two to three weeks. The people get relief if there is no delay in administrative process, he added. The recurring expenditure of the lab would be managed from public ledger account of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Rao said. The neighbouring states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and others can also send samples for test at this lab, once it is established.