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Centre forms National Board for Wildlife, flouts norms

 KOLKATA: The Narendra Modi government has approved the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), which according to experts has flouted the norms laid down in the Wildlife Protection Act.

 

While the Centre has inducted three members on the board—H S Singh, a retired forest officer of Gujarat cadre, GEER foundation, run by the Gujarat government and Raman Sukumar, an elephant expert from Bangalore—the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act 2002 clearly states in its Section 5(A) that it must have five persons representing non-governmental organizations to be nominated by the Centre and ten individuals to be nominated by the central government from among eminent conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists.

 

But, the new board only has two individual members and there is no representation from the NGOs, since the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) foundation is being run by the Gujarat government.

 

A former member of the standing committee of NBWL, who didn't want to be named, said that earlier there were transparency and checks and balances while clearing any development projects in and around the forest areas. "But, this move will surely jeopardize the process of protecting forests in the country," he said.

 

It may be noted that several projects including, mining in Central Indian tiger habitat, dams in north-east and Uttarakhand and highway projects are waiting for clearances from the board. The tenure of the previous board lapsed in September, 2013.

 

The board, a statutory body under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is supposed to oversee implementation of the wildlife policy. Though the notification issued on July 22 is yet to be out on public domain, TOI possesses a copy of it. While the prime minister is the chairperson of the board, the Union environment minister is the vice-chairperson of the board. The environment minister is also the chairperson of the standing committee of the NBWL.

 

The Times of India (26/07/2014)