The Delhi High Court has asked Union of India to furnish the reasons as to why the drug ‘Nimesulide’ has not been banned, and deliberations undertaken in this regard while hearing a petition seeking 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.
In a reply Ministry of Health and Family has filed an affidavit in Delhi High Court informing that they have recommended banning of two drugs namely Aceclofenac and Ketoprofen as they are toxic for Vultures.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula in an order passed on September 1, 2023 noted that an affidavit has been filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, which is not on record. Learned counsel for Union of India seeks and is granted two weeks’ time to place it on record. The court posted September 20, 2023 for further hearing.
Court noted that petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal stated that his grievance arose in respect of four non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) used in veterinary care, which are admittedly toxic to Vultures, three of which already stand banned, namely, Acelofenac, Ketoprofen, Diclofenac whereas the sole remaining drug, ‘Nimesulide’ continues to be sold in the market.
The plea filed by Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal sought banning of toxic drugs which are harmful for Vultures. He submitted that Centre has not taken any steps for banning other toxic drug (Nimesulide) which is equally responsible for sharp decline of population of Vultures in India, the Delhi High Court has directed the Union of India to apprise the COURT about the steps taking by them to ban the OTHER TOXIC DRUGS (i.e. NIMESULIDE) on the next date of hearing.
Bansal, in his petition has stated that because of the toxic drugs (NSAIDs like Aceclofenac, Ketoprofen, Nimuslide, Diclofenac etc) the population of the Vultures in INDIA has declined very sharply.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has sought 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 open market.
Plea sought direction to the Respondents to promote the use of Meloxicam (Salt Formula) for veterinary use as the same poses no risk to vultures and also sought direction to Constitute Monitoring Committee to check and supervise that TOXIC NSAIDs are not in use in Open Market.
Plea seeks court intervention regarding protection and conservation if 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. 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 Himalayas.
Plea further stated that the cause of the population declines of Vultures in India is the veterinary use of the NSAIDS in live stock. NSAIDs have analgesic, antiarthritic and antipyretic properties and as such is used to treat wide variety of common ailments in Domestic Ungulates (Cow Sheep, Goats Pigs Deer etc), said the plea.
Petition submitted that there are many NSAIDs which are available in market and are used in veterinary for Domestic Ungulates. Plea also submitted that Vultures are exposed to toxic level of NSAIDS when they feed on carcasses of livestock which 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 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 sharp decline in vulture population in country. In the year 2006, Government of India banned Diclofenac for veterinary use throughout India by way of invoking its power under section 26 A of Drugs & Cosmetic Act.
However, despite of 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 & Ketoprofen, Nimesulide etc. It is clear from the above that banning of Diclofenac alone is of no use, if Respondents are not going to ban other toxic NSAIDs like Aceclofenac & Nimesulide , Ketoprofen, plea read. (ANI)