ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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National Board for Wildlife and the Illusion of Wildlife Protection

National Board for Wildlife and the Illusion of Wildlife Protection

The recent approvals granted by the National Board for Wildlife permitting ecologically destructive activities within national parks and sanctuaries have generated a lot of concern. A significant part of the concern is with respect to the timing, and whether it is appropriate to approve projects during the COVID-19 lockdown. Other larger issues of concern point to the fact that the NBWL has become a “clearing house” for projects, where, irrespective of its impact on wildlife, projects are approved and that the decisions of the board are guided more by economic, strategic, political and other considerations and rarely in terms of wildlife conservation. The NBWL is the apex body for conservation of wildlife and its habitat, and the NBWL’s role is of critical importance to ensure the long-term protection of India’s biodiversity.

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is a “statutory board” constituted under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (wildlife act). However, it is important to point out that the wildlife act, as originally enacted in 1972, did not provide for the NBWL. It was only through an amendment of the wildlife act in 20021 that the NBWL was constituted. It is a 47-member committee, headed by the Prime Minister and the minister of environment, forest and climate change (environment minister) as vice chairperson. In addition to offices and institutions directly involved in conservation and protection of wildlife, the NBWL also has the chief of army staff, defence secretary, expenditure secretary to Government of India as members. Further, the central government nominates 10 members who are eminent conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists. Prior to the NBWL there was the Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL). The IBWL was an executive body, created by the executive, without any statutory backing, serving essentially as an advisory body.2 Originally, the Prime Minister was not the chairperson of the IBWL. In fact, when Project Tiger was launched in 1972, Karan Singh, the then minister for civil aviation and tourism, was the chairperson. Later, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi became the chairperson of the IBWL, owing to her passion for wildlife, as detailed by Jairam Ramesh (2017) in Indira Gandhi: A Life with Nature.

Powers and Function of NBWL

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Updated On : 16th Jan, 2021

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