COR­RALLED BYTHE STATE

Jew­ellers op­pose blan­ket ban on coral trade though law al­lows sale of cer­tain forms

India Today - - NATION - by Sowmya Aji

Ja­gan­nath R., 60, a builder in Ban­ga­lore, went to his fam­ily jew­eller on Rich­mond Road in the last week of April prior to his son’s wed­ding. He was out shop­ping for the man­gal­su­tra for his soon- to- be daugh­ter- in- law. Designs he got, how­ever he ran into a wall.

“I could not get the all- im­por­tant coral for the man­gal­su­tra, which has re­li­gious and emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance in Hindu wed­dings. Our jew­eller told me that coral trade is banned in Ban­ga­lore, though I can source it from any­where else in the coun­try. What kind of law is this?’’ asks a fu­ri­ous Ja­gan­nath.

Ja­gan­nath is not alone. Any­one who wants to buy coral in Kar­nataka has to go at least till Ho­sur on the Kar­nataka-Tamil Nadu bor­der. The rea­son: Po­lice in Ban­ga­lore de­cided to im­pose and im­ple­ment a ban on coral trade in Novem­ber 2011, cit­ing a clause in the Wildlife Pro­tec­tion Act, 1972, which is not in vogue else­where in the coun­try.

Sched­ule I Part IV- A of the Act lists Gor­ga­ni­ans or sea fans ( names for coral) un­der the pro­tected cat­e­gory. Af­ter seek­ing a le­gal opin­ion from the di­rec­tor of pros­e­cu­tions in the state gov­ern­ment, H. R. Renuka, the for­est cell of the Kar­nataka Po­lice raided shops of jew­ellers and whole­salers in Ban­ga­lore and im­posed the ban. Said the of­fi­cial let­ter from Renuka, “The Wildlife Pro­tec­tion Act, 2003, pro­hibits trade in coral­lium rubrum or sea fans in any form.’’

Jew­ellers’ as­so­ci­a­tions are now up in arms and have com­plained to the Gems and Jew­ellery Trade Coun­cil of In­dia. “All forms of coral are not pro­tected or banned un­der Sched­ule I of the Wildlife Act. The coral we are trad­ing in is im­ported from Ja­pan and Italy, and is legally brought in as per in­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species ( CITES) reg­u­la­tions. We have cus­tom clear­ance and the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment has also re­duced im­port duty on these from 5 per cent in 2008 to zero to en­cour­age trade. What does the Kar­nataka Po­lice mean by seiz­ing our coral and foist­ing cases on us?’’ asks Vivek Chand, sec­re­tary of the Ban­ga­lore Jew­ellers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Af­ter a prom­i­nent jew­eller’s shop was raided and he was im­pris­oned in late 2011, the as­so­ci­a­tion sought a clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the Union en­vi­ron­ment min­istry on the is­sue. On Jan­uary 24, Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral ( Wildlife) Prakriti Sri­vas­tava sent a let­ter stat­ing that the coral­lium rubrum coral is not listed ei­ther in the sched­ules of the

THE JEW­ELLERS’ AS­SO­CI­A­TIONS ARE PLAN­NING TO TAKE THE LE­GAL ROUTE AGAINST THE BAN, STAT­ING THE WILDLIFE ACT IS BE­ING MIS­IN­TER­PRETED.

Wildlife Act, or in the CITES ap­pen­dices. “As such, the trade of such species may be reg­u­lated ac­cord­ingly, sub­ject to the pro­vi­sions of the for­eign trade pol­icy,’’ the let­ter stated clearly.

The jew­ellers’ as­so­ci­a­tions are now plan­ning to take the le­gal route against the ban im­posed by the po­lice, say­ing that the Wildlife Act is be­ing mis­in­ter­preted by them. “All this is an ef­fort to ha­rass us, as jew­ellers are soft tar­gets. Our mar­gins are be­ing af­fected, while jew­ellers across the coun­try are ben­e­fit­ing from the ban here,’’ says Para­ma­si­va­iah P., gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Kar­nataka Di­a­monds and Gems Mer­chants As­so­ci­a­tion.

SAN­DESH RAVI KUMAR

CORALS ATAJEWELLERYSTORE; ( ABOVE) AS­TORE IN BAN­GA­LORE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.