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

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Sidestepping Science

India’s ‘Notional’ Board for Wildlife

The Narendra Modi government's initial reconstitution of the National Board for Wildlife, which the Supreme Court questioned as contravening the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, is in line with the current ethos of development at all costs. The decision to keep out domain experts in ecology suggests a refusal to acknowledge the complexities underlying conservation.

On 22 July 2014, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change issued a notification nominating members to a new National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). The NBWL is a statutory organisation constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 (WPA; amended 2002) and is a body that plays an advisory role in framing policy and streamlining measures for wildlife conservation in the country. It is headed by the prime minister and the standing committee headed by the Union Minister for Environment and Forests examines projects put before it for environment clearance.

Under Section 5(A) of the WPA, the NBWL must include in its ranks five persons representing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 10 eminent conservationists, ecologists or environmentalists nominated by the central government. In a controversial notification that violates the provisions of the WPA, the government approved the NBWL with only two experts in ecology or conservation, and the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation (GEER) as the sole representative of NGOs (Sethi and Jha 2014). The new committee met on 11-12 August under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar and cleared more than 100 projects on the agenda.

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