Meena Menon

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Environment Minister and other officials, several NGOs and individuals have protested the reconstitution of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) which has only two non-official members in place of 10 and one quasi-government organisation in place of five independent NGOs.

In the letter dated August 4, organisations such as Kalpavriksh and South Asia Network for Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP), expressed concern over the new NBWL notified on July 22, 2014. The term of the previous NBWL and its standing committee ended in September 2013.

There was no NBWL and a standing committee for more than ten months and the country expected that the government would constitute a proper Board honouring the letter and spirit of the Wildlife Protection Act

and the need to protect wildlife and biodiversity in protected areas, the letter said.

The notification is not even available on the Ministry of Environment website and is in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act in letter and spirit and is not in the interest of the wildlife, biodiversity or protected areas in the country, activists said. The Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 2002 states that there should be five persons to represent NGOs but the new Board has one member, from the “Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Gandhinagar, Gujarat” which is a Gujarat Government organisation and not an NGO. Its website says it has been “set up in 1982 by the Forests and Environment Department, Government of Gujarat” and the Chairperson of its board is Chief Minister of Gujarat while a majority

of the board members too are from the state government.

Instead of ten persons to be nominated by the Central Government from among eminent conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists as per the Wildlife Protection act, only two have been nominated, Prof.

Raman Sukumar, and Dr. H.S. Singh. And instead of nominating a representative each from ten states and union territories by rotation, only five states have been chosen.