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Op-Ed

Reform Arms Act & Rule to preserve Wildlife

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By EMN Updated: Sep 11, 2013 9:20 pm
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An eye opener to the truth and challenge beneath Wildlife Preservation and Conservation in Nagaland

Thepfulhouvi Solo

THE Licence Fee for a high powered modern Repeat Fire Sporting Rifles, Pistols and Revolvers is only `10/- and for Renewal `5/-! The License Fees for B.L. Gun whether DBBL or SBBL is `6/- and for Renewal `3/- only: the Fee for M.L. Gun and Air Gun is `4/- for Licence and `2/- for Renewal.These Fees are rediculously low for Fire Arms; this is unconscionable!
The cost of a small sheaf of Mustered leaf in the Kohima Bazaar or at the roadside Pavement is `20/-; there is no vegetable available in the Market cheaper than `20/- per KG. Even wild vegetables procured free from the wild is no less costly.

Onion costs `50/- per KG but the Licence Fee, of a sophisticated modern Sporting Rifle costing lakhs of Rupees, is even less than the cost of a KG of Onion in the market! Surprising!
The present Licence Fees are low beyond any conscionable reason and some of the items of the Rules&Regulations are primitive, archaic; bellow the belly of our Standards today.
In the case of Nagaland; this is because Naga Hills (Arms) Regulation 1938 was patterned principally after the coloneal India Arms Act of 1878 which became inaplicable to Naga Hills in 1936 due to Government of India Act 1935 declaring Naga Hills an ‘Excluded Area’ by the India Order of 1936.
The Act of 1935 which put Naga Hills in the Excluded Area empowered the Governor to make Regulations for the Excluded Area and consequently the Governor was pleased to make Naga Hills (Arms) Regulation II of 1938 where the Deputy Commissioner has been made the Licensing Authority.

Some of the outdated Rules are:
i. The Deputy Commissioner is empowered to Issue Licence,
ii. Licence can be issued to any Village at the rate of one Arm for 15 Houses.
iii. The Gun can be used by any Adult or Clan in the Village.
iv. The Validity of the Lisence as the DC pleases,
v. No Licence or Renewal Fee for Muzzle Loading Gun,
vi. DC to Authorise Vendors for Sale of Ammunition,
vii. Sub-Inspector to make sudden check of the Sale.
viii. Details of ‘close season’ and ‘prohibited gender’ of Animals are stipulates in the current Gun License, are outdated.

These 19th Century archaic Colonial Era Arms Regulations were made solely for use in hunting of Wild Animals and Birds. For too long, has this attitude continued to this day, naively or inadvertantly. Today the most civilized world feels no need of Hunting except the Nagas. This 21st and the coming Centuries require total commitment for preservation of our environmental Ecology which involves delecate ‘Balance of Relationship’ not only between Soil, Rain, Sunshine, Air but also between all the constituents Biological members of Nature.
For Self Protection and Self preservation, Hand Guns may be necessary for some Persons, but today there simply is no necessity of the powerful modern Rifles and Guns for any persons to possess.

However, Guns and Rifles are not the only ones used to kill Animals and Birds; there are often worst others which do not require Licence to use and any Hunter can easily make in his own varandah himself:
i. iron Wires of diameter 1mm to 5mm for making Traps,
ii. Factory manufactured Iron Clamp-Traps freely available in the Market,
iii. Poison Chemicals, Gums,
iv. Open Sale of Gun Powder with which Hunters can make their own Shots in the kitchen very easily and cheaply. A KG of Gun Powder costing `300/- can produce several hundreds of Home Made 12 Bore Shots cheaply otherwise costing thousands of Rupees.
v. Sale of Air Gun freely, particularly .22 bore, which is easily converted into lethal .22 Rifle in any Gun Repairer Shop in Nagaland.
vi. The practice of Renting Arms or Shots on Rent for Animal Meat.
The Wildlife Protection Act of India, the Conservation Act today has no room for Sport Hunting of Animals and Birds; the Archaic Arms Act and Regulations of India needs urgent updating consonant with modern view of Environment Conservation.
The writer is a retired IFS.(RR-68)
Retd. Principal Secretary,
Forest Wildlife & Environment. Nagaland.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 11, 2013 9:20:02 pm