NEW DELHI: In a move that threatens wildlife in over 850 protected areas across the country, Union Environment Ministry has decided to do away with mandatory wildlife board clearance for development projects coming up within 10-kilometre radius of the national park and wildlife sanctuaries.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued an office memorandum last week, which empowered sector-specific Expert Appraisal Committee to look into the impact of developmental activity/project on the wildlife habitat. The mandatory NBWL approval came into being following a Supreme Court order dated December 2006.
“Proposals involving developmental activity/project located outside the stipulated boundary limit of notified ESZ and located within 10 km of National Park/ Wildlife Sanctuary, prior clearance from Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (SCNBWL) may not be applicable,” said the MoEFCC order.
It further said: “However, such proposals from environmental angle including impact of developmental activity/project on the wildlife habitat, if any, would be examined by the sector-specific Expert Appraisal Committee and appropriate conservation measures in the form of recommendations shall be made,” It further stated the recommendations are to be explicitly mentioned in the environmental clearance letter.
The apex had directed MoEF would also refer to the SCNBWL, under section 5(b) & 5(c) (ii) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the cases where environmental clearances have already been granted where activities are within 10 km zone of the boundaries of the Sanctuaries and National Parks.