Saturday, February 09, 2013
Dinosaur eggs that are millions of years old are being sold for as little as Rs 500
Dinosaur eggs estimated to be worth close to Rs 1 crore each are being sold for as little as Rs 500 in Madhya Pradesh’s fossil-rich Dhar-Mandla belt.
JABALPUR/INDORE: Dinosaur eggs that are millions of years old are being sold for as little as Rs 500 in Madhya Pradesh's fossil-rich Dhar-Mandla belt. In the international market, say experts, they fetch close to Rs 1 crore.
So rampant has the smuggling of the eggs — dating back to the Cretaceous period 145 to 66 million years ago — become that a nervous Madhya Pradesh government has set afoot plans to introduce the Fossils Preservation Act that might come in handy to prevent the dubious trade. The draft of the law, says a senior forest official, has already been sent to the law department for whetting.
The only notified site of dinosaur nesting in MP is Padlya in Dhar district. It covers some 89 hectares and has been lying unprotected since 2007, making it a fertile hunting ground for egg smugglers. Procuring them — these are of immense value to paleontologists — is easy as there are neither fences nor guards in the area.
Sources say that all it takes is some haggling and coaxing from smugglers who mostly come from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan to target gullible tribals living in the area.
'Law must to smuggling'
Explaining the modus operandi of the illegal trade of dinosaur eggs in MP's Padlya, MP forest minister Sartaj Singh said, "There is no count of how many dinosaur eggs have been removed. There really is need for a law as we don't yet have legal provisions to check this roaring business. And the fact that the government is helpless in curbing these activities has only emboldened this nexus. But with the impending passage of the Act, we can prohibit possession and sale of fossils."
The Act, as of now, envisages a transit pass for "movement of fossil", which, the minister thinks, will be a deterrent to law-breakers. It also calls for the wildlife warden to monitor and supervise known sites of dinosaur eggs, all the while keeping the forest department in the loop.
Former deputy-DG of the Geological Survey of India, Dr Arun Sonakia, says Gujarat has done a far better job with conservation of dinosaur remains. "We (Madhya Pradesh) do not have the resources and therefore there has hardly been any effort on the part of the state government to look after these precious bits of history," he says, adding, "But it's time we did. The cost of one such egg in the international market could go up to around Rs 1 crore, and these smugglers are making a killing."