Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021; Filling the gaps in wildlife protection is the need of the hour
Minister of the Environment introduced the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, which amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, at Lok Sabha on 17th December 2021. The Bill seeks to amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for better implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
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The government has stated that the modification of the Acai Fauna is necessary due to the requirement under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES, which came into force in July 1975, assumed responsibility for the survival of nearly 35,000 species of plants and animals.
India exists Wildlife Protection Act was first introduced in 1972, and it does not meet some of the requirements of CITES, to which 184 member countries are party. This has caused CITES to blacklist India once for trade in these species, and if blacklisted again, India will be banned from trade in some of these crucial species, which will have an impact on the livelihoods of a large part of the population.
The text of the bill presented to Parliament claimed that stakeholders wanted a reduction in the compliance burden “to encourage an environment conducive to collaborative research and investment, to simplify the patent application process, to broaden the scope of perception of access and benefit sharing with local communities and for the further conservation of biological resources”.
For: Creation of “State Boards of Wildlife” strengthening the local level
- Wildlife management plans for sanctuaries and national parks across the country will now be part of wildlife law and must be approved by the state’s chief wildlife custodian, increasing the scope of stricter protection for various species.
- Bill Provides Clarity and Ensures Better Care of Seized Live Animals and Disposal of Seized Wildlife Parts and Products
- Decentralize the functions of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), with the creation of standing committees of the State Boards of Wildlife, to strengthen the local level
- Guarantee the efficiency and speed of elimination of functions
- Ensuring much stricter protection of protected areas such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries
- The bill also aims to streamline the hours mentioned in the original law, reducing them from six to four. The calendar is a categorization of wildlife species according to their degree of critical danger
- Firearms permit around Protected Areas (Pas) has been restricted to up to 10km radius from 5km previously
Cons: No liability advice
- The bill authorizes the trade in elephants, which is problematic because it effectively legalizes the trade in live elephants. Wild Asian elephants are taken from the forests, often illegally, to maintain the high demand for captive elephants. This could affect wild elephant populations.
- Another amendment to the bill gave excessive delegation and unlimited power to the central government to declare a species as vermin. Once a wild animal is declared vermin, it has no legal protection and has the same status as a domestic animal. It can be killed, traded and tamed.
- By decentralizing the functions of the National Wildlife Board (NBWL), the State Wildlife Board would be rendered obsolete. Importantly, NBWL, led by the Prime Minister, has not met since 2014. All of its statutory functions are performed by the Standing Committee, without an accountability board.
- Section 28(b) has been amended to grant permission to make films without causing negative impact on habitat/wildlife. Movie shooting was banned in 1978 to prevent accidents and tragedies. This is not a welcome decision as the protected areas are already overcrowded with tourists.
- The modification of the Appendices under amendment clause 41 (page 13) to streamline the Appendices and use an updated taxonomy is welcome. However, many species/groups of species are missing from the appendix. Apart from mammals, most other faunal groups are incompletely listed, especially amphibians and reptiles. Also, the basis or inclusion/exclusion criteria are unclear.
- Detailed lists of species, focusing on birds, which should be included or rearranged in the Appendices.
- The bill also fails to encourage the importance of including research and habitats in the preamble and to create enabling provisions
The need of the hour
In conclusion, the modifications are more technical and the need of the hour is to fill the gaps in the field of wildlife protection, conservation and management. When the bill was first proposed in October this year, it angered activists and environmentalists across the country because the provisions of the amendment were not made public and were not no longer available in the vernacular languages. legal consulting firm, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) calling him a “a bill aimed at facilitating the destruction of India’s biodiversity and usurping peoples’ rights.” Campaigners are of the view that sufficient time should have been allowed to raise objections and seek clarification on the provisions of the bill.
Speaking about the bill, Ritwick Dutta, environmental lawyer at LIFE, said that “on the positive side, the bill seeks to ensure that the provisions relating to the Convention become part of national law. Furthermore, the bill also aims to simplify the law by reducing the schedules. However, there are areas of concern that need to be addressed. »