October 26, 2021 5:43:27 pm
Environmentalists here are unhappy with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) for not making the proposed amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 readily available in the public domain.
The ministry had on October 5 proposed amendments to the said Act and solicited comments from state governments and Union territories by October 23.
Wildlife conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni said that the ministry had recently given sufficient time to submit objections in the case of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and also published the proposed amendments in vernacular languages, but it did not do the same in respect to the Wildlife Protection Act.
Kulkarni in a letter to the government said that when the environment ministry had published the draft EIA notification, 2020, even then it had not given sufficient publicity initially and this move was challenged by the United Conservation Movement Charitable and Welfare Trust through a public interest litigation in the Karnataka high court.
The high court in its order dated July 16, 2020 had observed, “Prima facie, we are of the view that the respondent – Central Government – must take immediate steps to ensure that wide publicity to the notification dated 23rd March 2020 is given by publishing the same in official languages of all the States. If the publicity is to be given hereafter, hardly a few days’ time will be available to the citizens to submit objections. Therefore, the Central Government will have to consider extending time for submitting objections…”
Kulkarni said: “The Order is with respect to publication of draft EIA notification, 2020. However, prima facie it appears that the proposed amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, too, are likely to have an impact on wildlife, hence it is important that the ministry invites objections/comments from the public by publishing the proposed amendments in the public domain and mainly in vernacular languages of states/Union territories. It is also important that the ministry gives sufficient time by extending the last date to submit objections and comments.”
The proposed amendments include insertion of a new Section establishing the Standing Committee of the State Board for Wildlife. The Standing Committee will consist of the vice-chairperson, member secretary, and not more than 10 members to be nominated by the vice-chairperson, from among the members of the State Board for Wildlife. At present, the State Board for Wildlife is headed by the chief minister, whereas ministers and experts from different fields serve as members.
An amendment clause also proposes to give the power to the Centre to declare areas as conservation reserves.
There is a proposal for the insertion of a new chapter in the Act for the regulation of international trade in endangered species according to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Union government under this proposal will be empowered to make rules for invasive species.
“The Central Government may, by notification, make such rules as necessary in order to manage Species that may be invasive in nature and may pose a threat to the wildlife or ecosystems of India, control zoonotic diseases, and protect Species which are critically endangered in the habitats in which they occur but which are not listed on the Appendices to the Convention,” the proposed amendment read.
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