Press Trust of india

Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill: BJP lauds move; Oppn flags concerns of Parl panel

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New Delhi: The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 was taken up for consideration in Lok Sabha on Tuesday with the ruling BJP asserting that it would put India at the forefront of the battle to save the ecosystems of the world and the Opposition pushing for incorporating the suggestions of a parliamentary panel.

Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav moved the bill for consideration and passage when the House reassembled at 2 pm.

Moving the bill for passage, Yadav said a special chapter has been added to conform to the international treaty Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

He said the bill makes amendments for better management of protected areas and inserts an explanation so as to provide for certain permitted activities such as grazing or movement of livestock, bona fide use of drinking and household water by local communities.

Initiating the debate on the bill, Congress MP Pradyut Bardoloi hailed the role of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in conservation efforts.

He also flagged the issue of people in Assam who were not getting benefits despite agarwood being used in a big way.

Bordoloi also highlighted that elephants need friendly atmosphere which should be ensured and they should not be transferred to unfriendly areas. He also urged the government to adopt the recommendations of the parliamentary panel.

BJP MP Kirti Vardhan Singh asserted that India is leading the world in protecting environment.

“Under able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are gradually reviving our glorious past and culture. This bill will be a step in that direction. We are leading the world in the fight to protect the environment. This enactment of this bill will put us at the forefront of the battle to save the ecosystems of our planet,” he said.

Participating in the debate, DMK’s A Raja said the minister’s intention was laudable but the government’s implementation still raises question marks.

He said the role of the states has not been given enough attention in the amendments. Raja also said the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has not had a meeting for eight years but more authorities and panels have been created in the bill.

The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 seeks to conserve and protect wildlife through better management of protected areas and rationalise schedules which list out species under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It was introduced in Lok Sabha in December last year.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, was enacted to provide for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants with a view to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country.

The bill also seeks to include the aspects of “conservation” and “management” of wildlife which are covered by the Act and make amendments for better management of protected areas.

It proposes to rationalise and amend the schedules, which list out wildlife species, for the purposes of clarity, and ensure better care of seized live animals and disposal of seized wildlife parts and products.

The bill seeks to enable control of invasive alien species and allow for transfer or transport of live elephants by person having ownership certificates in accordance with conditions prescribed by the central government.

It also proposes to insert a new Chapter VB in the principal Act for regulation of international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora and allow state boards for wildlife to constitute standing committees.

India is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which requires that appropriate measures are taken to enforce the provisions of the convention.

The bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change on December 25.

The panel chaired by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has cautioned against encouraging the sale and purchase of captive elephants and recommended the need to strike a careful balance between tradition and conservation.

The committee, in its report on the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, had said it is “deeply conscious” of the fact that a number of religious and cultural institutions in some states own elephants which play a crucial role in daily worship and rituals.

It said it is in “broad agreement” with the amendments proposed for the improved care for seized and surrendered wild animals.  However, an amendment that provides for transfer or transport of elephants as per conditions prescribed by the central government “has raised serious concern in the wildlife conservation community including amongst some state governments,” said the report.

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