Lok Sabha Approves Forest Dwellers’ Rights and Endangered Species Bill | Latest India News


The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill 2021 after hours of debate on issues related to the conservation of endangered species, human-wildlife conflict and human rights. forest dwellers, among others.

The Bill amends the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to better implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The final changes approved in the Lok Sabha were not available on Tuesday evening.

The bill was referred to a standing parliamentary committee headed by Congress leader and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, which submitted a 254-page report in April, raising several concerns and urging the environment ministry take into account the suggestions of scientists and environmentalists.

The bill, for example, proposes a permanent State Board committee for wildlife, which will be filled with official members and will end up being a buffer for faster environmental clearances of projects, independent experts said.

The parliamentary panel had said that if a permanent committee were to be formed, one-third of its members should be unofficial. It should also have at least three institutional and the director of the Wildlife Institute of India or his representative.

Following the Lok Sabha debate, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav addressed some of the concerns on Tuesday. Among several clarifications, Yadav said the government had asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its June 4 order that all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country that fall under the protected forest must set aside a minimum distance of 1 km as as ecologically sensitive areas where they are prohibited. activities specified by the Centre, including mining and the establishment of any new permanent structures, will not be permitted.

“Many members have asked why did you introduce a new management committee in the bill? India is one of the oldest members of CITES. It is our responsibility to see how we can use biodiversity in a sustainable way,” Yadav said. “Trade, export of endangered species related products was handled earlier by customs and trade promotion department. We needed a management committee for the certification of the import and export of products related to wildlife and endangered species. It is our collective responsibility. This is not about taking away the rights of state governments.

The network of protected areas in India has grown from 693 in 2012 to 987 in 2022, he pointed out.

“It is difficult to say what the final form of the bill will be. There can be a lot of wording changes. Bills normally pass with minor changes,” said Ritwick Dutta, an environmental lawyer. “The question is to what extent the recommendations of the report of the parliamentary standing committee have been taken into account. We need to see the final invoice to comment.

The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was enacted to provide for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants with a view to ensuring the ecological and environmental security of the country, in accordance with the Statement of Purposes and Purposes Bill. introduced on December 18. The bill aimed to include aspects of wildlife conservation and management covered by the law and to make amendments for better management of protected areas.

He proposed streamlining and amending the schedules that list wildlife species to ensure better care of seized animals and the disposal of seized wildlife parts and derivatives. India is a party to CITES, which requires that appropriate measures be taken to enforce the provisions of the convention.

Several wildlife experts and legal scholars had criticized some clauses of the bill, in particular the proposal to establish the state wildlife council standing committee, which is to be headed by the minister of forests and no more than 10 appointed members. by the minister. . This effectively means the standing committee can operate with just two members, critics said.

“Right now, state boards, by virtue of their makeup, are still able to speak in the interests of wildlife. This will no longer be the case once the standing committee of the state council is formed,” the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) told the ministry in December.

They had also pointed out that the bill gives excessive powers to the Center to report certain species of vermin and that it does not provide adequate protection against invasive alien species.


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