Certain provisions of Wildlife Protection Act make states as mere “rubber stamp” and they need to be modified, the Madhya Pradesh government has suggested to the Centre. It has also recommended changes in the 1972 Act to allow states to change buffer area inside a tiger reserve.
A buffer area is peripheral to critical tiger habitat where a lesser degree of habitat protection is required with adequate dispersal for the big cats and for promoting co-existence between wildlife and human activity. The recommendations were formed on the basis of inputs received from various stakeholders, including, few secretaries of Madhya Pradesh government, chief of Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India and others.
The state government had asked them to share their input on changes in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The state government move follows a letter from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to it in this regard. The MoEFCC had sought “constructive suggestions” from MP government on the law.
In its response to the Centre, the state government said it is surprising to note that sub-section one of Section 38 (V) of the Act makes it compulsory for states to follow recommendation of the Centre on notifying an area as a tiger reserve and sought changes in it.
Also, Section 38 (W) of the Act, makes states as “rubber stamp” to implement recommendation of Wild Life Board and National Tiger Conservation Authority, it said in a letter, a copy of which was received in response to an RTI query filed by Bhopal-based wildlife activist Ajay Dubey.
It is contrary to the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution, the recommendations said, seeking changes in the Wildlife Act. “No alteration in the boundaries of a tiger reserve shall be made except on a recommendation of the (National) Tiger Conservation Authority and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life,” Section 38 (W) reads.
The state government has also sought changes in the law to allow private sector for wildlife tourism, as per the documents. “We will write to the NTCA and Environment Ministry against the proposed changes as it will defeat the very purpose of wildlife protection,” said Dubey.