BENGALURU: The Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) has decided that state chief wildlife wardens will henceforth sanction proposals for laying of pipelines for drinking water and optic fibre cables for telecommunication inside national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves. However, every month, the details of these sanctioned proposals have to be sent to the Standing Committee.
Under the existing rules, any proposal for laying of pipelines for supply of drinking water in protected areas has to be recommended by the State Board for Wildlife and the NBWL. The Board further opined that drinking water projects cannot be delayed as this is the basic sustenance for human life as well as livestock, especially in water-scarce areas.
This decision comes to effect in all states and Union Territories in the aftermath of an appeal by the Gujarat government that there should be a change in delegation of powers in sanctioning such projects for water-scarce regions and given to the chief wildlife wardens due to the inordinate delays happening till now.
On their part, wildlife conservationists say by law, it is the correct decision as the chief wildlife warden is the ultimate authority but both state and central wildlife boards play a critical role in the interest of wildlife protection and conservation. They add, “The role of both boards should not be overruled. Their advice should be utilised and not bypassed in this manner. Today, it is for drinking water and optic fibre cables, tomorrow, it will be for projects to provide electricity and roads in protected areas.”