NEW DELHI: Some of the proposals in the environment ministry’s draft amendment to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, have invited criticism from experts who have argued against provisions which they claim would allow commercial trade in live elephants and will render state wildlife boards defunct.
The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha recently and sent to the parliamentary standing committee. In its comments shared with the committee, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) said the draft calls to insert a new section allowing the State Board for Wild Life (SBWL) to constitute a Standing Committee to exercise powers and perform duties as may be delegated to it by the Board.
The NCF said SBWLs would be rendered defunct due to the amendment suggested. “This has already happened with the National Board for Wildlife. This is not desirable as this will dilute the scrutiny, evaluation and assessment that proposed projects are given,” it said.
Criticising another proposal, the Initiative for Forest and Environment said “an exception has been carved out by excluding from the general prohibition contained in section 43”, thereby implying that slae and purchase of elephants will no longer be legally prohibited.
The draft also calls for the inclusion of invasive alien species in the Act, but another comment submitted to the parliamentary panel said it was unclear as to what process will be followed in how species will be listed and whether both plants and animals will be included. “There needs to be a well-considered scientific and transparent process for proposing, evaluating, listing and delisting invasive alien species, along with enabling provisions directing the formulation of specific management measures,” it said.