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Blue sheep eye infection forces Gangotri park to take steps

Raju Gusain | Dehradun |

After receiving a rap from the National Green Tribunal over the eye infection leading to blindness in blue sheep, the Gangotri National Park has enforced precautionary measures.

Tourists visiting the park will now have to undergo a disinfection exercise. The blue sheep eye infection issue left the park authorities red faced after the NGT issued notice last year.

The Gangotri National Park has now asked all visitors to get their shoes disinfected with potassium permanganate solution kept at the Kankhu gate. Visitors will have to dip their shoes in a tub with the chemical solution at the main entry gate of the park.

Gangotri National park’s deputy director Sarvan Kumar said, “We will be sprinkling lime and using potassium permanganate for disinfection.” Spread over an area of 2390.02 square km, the park is famous for its rich wildlife, including snow leopard, brown bear, black bear, Himalayan Thar and musk deer.

The eye infection inflicting blue sheep came to light last year through an expedition team. India’s apex mountaineer Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu was in the Gangotri area for an expedition from August end to September 2017 and he took photographs of nine such blue sheep. The forest department first denied any infection among blue sheep but later sent a team for verification.

The notice of the National Green Tribunal caught the Gangotri National Park authorities on the wrong foot.

The park recently submitted its reply to the NGT and said it has set up an isolated area in Gangotri Park to treat sick wild animals. At present, the common practice is to take the infected or sick animal to the nearest range office where medical treatment can be provided.

The park management has also promised to conduct a search of infected blue sheep or their bodies this summer, when the snow melts to make the search feasible.

Annually a large number of adventure lovers, pilgrims and nature lovers visit Gangotri National Park. Only 150 tourists are daily allowed to tour the park. The restriction was imposed after pilgrims en masse began touring Gaumukh, source of river Ganga. Considering the sensitivity of the area the cap on tourists was implemented.