Maharashtra first state to have wildlife DNA lab
Geetanjali Minhas | October 23, 2021 | Mumbai
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has launched three state-of-the-art human DNA units under the Nirbhaya Scheme for efficiency in criminal investigations. A wildlife DNA unit in Nagpur makes Maharashtra the country’s first state to have a forensic testing lab for animals.
The human DNA facilities have been set up at Forensic Science Laboratories in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune. With forensics analysis having important, evidential value on criminal investigation, an increasing number of samples are now being sent by the police to FSL for testing. At present these labs have limited capacities and important cases are given priority over others. Increased manpower and advanced analysis instruments in these new facilities will then speed up investigations with more accuracy.
Inaugurating the facilities online, Thackeray said, “Fast-track DNA units and wildlife DNA analysis department will speed up the process of providing necessary evidence to strengthen the law, crack down crime and criminals. The laboratory will speed up investigations of crimes against women and children.”
Set up by the state home department, around Rs 250 crore of funds for required infrastructure to run the units have been procured from the Nirbhaya Fund received from the centre and the state government.
With the inception of the wildlife DNA unit, Maharashtra is the only state in the country to have its own DNA testing unit for animals. So far, all the other states including Maharashtra had to approach central facilities at Hyderabad or Dehradun. The Vidarbha region has the largest forest cover in the state and the unit will play a major role in protecting wildlife.
Home minister Dilip Walse Patil and energy minister Nitin Raut, who is also the guardian minister of Nagpur, were present at the meeting held in Nagpur on Friday.
“The state will soon pass the Shakti Act for the protection of women in the coming winter session. With an increase in atrocities on women and children, a powerful law has been drafted to curb this,” said the home minister.
Speaking on the wildlife forensic lab, he said wildlife needs to be protected to maintain the balance in nature. “Other small and large animals, including tigers, are hunted. This is adversely affecting the balance in nature. The wildlife DNA analysis department will play a key role in preventing this and cracking down on the culprits involved in these crimes.”
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