Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Dr. Divyahanusinh Chavda's note



“This is with reference to the last meeting of the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). I want to bring to your attention the following:

1. a.  While the agenda was circulated by email the hard copy with the maps was delivered to my house on Sunday, 24th April at Jaipur when I had already left for Delhi. 

b. Additional items in the agenda were presented at the meeting itself.

2. In view of the above, I was unable to fully prepare for the meeting as I would have liked to do.

3. With regard to Parvan major irrigation project in Rajasthan, please record that I had pointed out at the meeting that nearly 2 lac trees need to be inundated/chopped for the purpose. Though I did not mention it then, I feel very strongly that proper EIA of the project must be done.

4. I would request you to kindly arrange to send the agenda well in time with maps so that one can be prepared for the discussion and contribute effectively.”



Dr.M.K.Ranjithsinh's Dissent Note to MoEF



Dear Smt. Prakriti Srivastava,


You would recollect that during the course of the 22nd meeting of the Standing Committee on 25.04.2011 during which some fifty proposals were hurriedly discussed and most approved, I had said that I would like my dissent / observations to be recorded in the minutes and the Chairman had agreed that it would be done.  I am therefore, sending my dissent / observations,  as follows:


1.  As was mentioned in the meeting itself by some members, the agenda items must be sent well in advance and that in future additional agenda items must not be given in the meeting for the first time.  Unlike in the past, maps are now being provided with the proposals but not in all cases.  However, crucial information such as the opinion of the state wildlife advisory boards without which the Standing Committee cannot consider the proposals, must be clearly stated in the project format prepared for each proposal.  It was noticed that in a number of cases, especially in the case of Madhya Pradesh, the number of trees to be felled was simply not given.  This is a very important requirement and proposals which lack this data should not be considered.


2.  There was far little time allotted for the meeting with the agenda that it had, as a result of which items on conservation suggested by the members were not discussed.  This has frequently occurred in the past.  In view of the very infrequent meetings of the full NBWL, the Standing Committee is the only fora where conservation issues can be raised by the members and if even this opportunity is denied, then the Standing Committee would only be a project clearance committee and nothing more.  The matter could be resolved by having  longer duration meetings and more frequent meetings, which the Chairman has acknowledged and agreed to.


Apart from these general observations above, I would like to make some specific mention in relation with certain agenda items;


A)  The Parvan major irrigation project, Rajasthan, which will submerge 81.67 sq.km. of the Shergarh Wildlife Sanctuary and what is more, will result in the destruction of approximately 186443 trees, in a tree deficit state like Rajasthan. Furthermore, even though 25cusecs of water is proposed to be continuously released into the Chambal from the proposed dam, this project will result in a major diversion of water from the Chambal, which has already been identified as deficient in water flow to support the last viable populations of the endangered Gharial and the Dolphin, in the April 2011 report prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India at the instance of the MoEF.  The report specifically recommends that no further diversion of water from the Chambal should take place if the future survival of the endangered aquatic species  mentioned above, is to be secured.  There is also no EIA of the project, with regard to the impact upon the aquatic life and ecology of the downstream Jawahar Sagar Sanctuary, Rana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary  and the National Chambal Sanctuary.


In view of the above, the undersigned would wish to record his dissent to the approval given to the above project.


B)  Items 2[4(2)] : Construction of fencing and patrol road along the Indo-Bangladesh Border in Damp Tiger Reserve, Mizoram; 4.1(3) denotification of Trikuta Wildlife Sanctuary, Jammu and Kashmir, and others : The Standing Committee has always followed the norm that where a substantial portion of a national  park or sanctuary is to be denotified, it would have to be compensated by having at least an equivalent area added elsewhere to the same protected area and if this be not possible, by the creation of another PA or by addition to an existing PA within the state.  An excellent example was Himachal Pradesh, where an additional area larger in size was notified and only thereafter the MoEF, on the recommendation of the Standing Committee, gave permission for the denotification of various parts of PA's in the state.  I would like to very emphatically reiterate, as I mentioned in the meeting itself, that this practice must continue, for otherwise the Standing Committee and hence the NBWL, would only be party to the reduction of the PA's with no areas ever to be added in the future, which cannot be the mandate of these two august bodies, especially in view of the fact that, as we all know, the only hope for the long term survival of India's natural heritage lies in our protected area system.


I would like this dissent note / observation to be recorded in both the above mentioned items where a total denotification of the Trikuta Sanctuary in Kashmir and a large scale secession of the Dampa Tiger Reserve, are envisaged.  Would also wish to mention that the alternate notification adding to a PA or creating a new one to compensate for the denotification of any PA, must precede the propose denotification, as was done in the case of Himachal Pradesh.


These may kindly be incorporated at the appropriate places in the minutes of the meeting.


Regards


Ranjitsinh

Dissent note on St. Com Meeting, April 26, 2011


April 26, 2011

Re:  Dissent Note on proceedings of the Standing Committee Meeting of the National Board for Wildlife on 25 April 2011

Due to the hurried manner in which the proceedings of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) were conducted on 25 April 2011, we would like to put our dissent note on a number of the decisions taken during the meeting, and request that these be put on record.

The Ministry’s 14 September 2010 Notification constituting the Standing Committee states that The Member-Secretary shall prepare agenda items for the meetings, obtain approval of the Chairperson and circulate it to all members at least fifteen days prior to the date of such meeting.” In view of the above, we dissent from the decisions taken by the Committee on the additional agenda items that were sent to the members on the night of Friday, 22 April 2011, giving us not a single working day before the meeting, and no time to review and assess the items for an informed decision making process.

The decision-making process of the NBWL is hampered by the fact that maps, FAC clearances, EIA reports, etc., for all agenda items usually reach the members a day or so before the meeting, a fact repeatedly pointed out by the members. It is important that members should be able to assess the proposals and the likely impacts they will have on PAs and wildlife.

Prerna Singh Bindra
Member, Standing Committee, National Board of Wildlife

Dr Koustubh Sharma
NCF, Mysore
Member, Standing Committee, National Board of Wildlife

Prerna Bindra's dissent note on approvals, April 26, 2011



I request that my dissent note be recorded on the following proposals taken up before the Standing Committee meeting on April 25th, 2011:

On the minutes of  21st meeting of the Standing committee on January 24th  2011
4.1(13)  Diversion of 3.9892 ha of forest land in Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary for widening of existing 2 lane of NH-24 to 4 lane road from KM 86.00 to KM 93 in Ghaziabad District, Uttar Pradesh.
It was pointed out by Ms Prerna Bindra that the area of Hastinapur sanctuary is 2079 sq km. The sanctuary has huge human habitation; there are villages, highways etc,  and huge tracts  have been degraded and fragmented and are known to have become of little  value to wildlife. But crucially, there are still pockets which are of immense biodiversity value, with swamp deer, leopard, jungle cat, sarus cranes, Gangetic dolphins which must not be compromised. It will be prudent to have a site visit to understand which part of the sanctuary this and other proposals pertaining to Hastinapur sanctuary is being impacted by the proposals put before the committee,  on the basis of which an informed decision can be made. It was assured that the area in question was not of value to wildlife, but to be on the side of caution it was agreed that a site inspection be made and after ascertaining the facts, due permission may be given subject to the following.
During the April 25th meeting, it was pointed out that clearance for the above proposal was given unconditionally during the January 24th meeting. However, I would like to place on record my dissent to a blanket clearance without verifying the area’s value in terms of wildlife/biodiversity, as specified above.

Main Agenda Items of the meeting of April 25th 2011
2[4.2(4)]: Diversion of 7.2871 ha of forest land for construction of Ropeway from Bhavnath Taleti to Ambaji Temple in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary by Usha Breco Ltd, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.  
The ropeway will pass through  a known breeding site of the long billed vulture (69 vultures in 2010, an increase from the last count of 41, suggesting an increase in numbers, as against a massive decline in the state, and indeed India.)
The report by Shri Divyabhanusinh and Dr Nita Shah placed before the committee on January 24th clearly states that the ropeway, if constructed, would lead to the local extinction of the long-billed vulture Gyps indicus in North Gujarat.  The critically endangered long billed vulture has seen a collapse of nearly 99% of its population, and is categorised as Critically Endangered. Ironically, the vulture is part of MoEF’s species recovery programme.
I record my dissent on the committee’s decision to clear the above proposal.

2[4(B)(12)]Proposal for denotification of forest area of Radhanagri Sanctuary for Savarde minor irrigation project.
I record my dissent on this clearance given the harmful ecological impacts, which were also discussed in the meeting. It is understood that the area to be submerged is under very good forest cover which will be destroyed irreplaceably.

2[4.1 (17)] Diversion of 0.205 ha of forest land from Fambonglho Wildlife Sanctuary for construction of Sang Naya Bazar water supply scheme from Lalichok to Sang in East Sikkim.
2[4.1 (18)] Diversion of 1.9718 ha of forest land from Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary for construction of water supply scheme from Mithuney to Rhenock in (South) Sikkim.
2[4.1 (19)] Diversion of 0.50 ha of forest land from Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary for construction of water supply scheme from Jelep la stream to Kupup in (North) Sikkim.
The decision is to allow for all three proposals, as recommended by Dr A.J.T. Johnsingh, and with  the conditions imposed as in the report submitted by Prerna Singh Bindra.
I record my dissent on the decision to allow for 2[4.1 (18)], and request that my report of the site visit be placed on record.

4.1 (6) Permission for 330 MW Dholpur Gas based combined cycle thermal power project stage-II drawing water from National Chambal Ghariyal Sanctuary at Dholpur, Rajasthan
The Chambal river harbours 85 per cent of the entire population of the critically endangered gharial and a high density of the national aquatic animal, the Gangetic dolphin per river km. The ‘Assessment of minimum water flow requirements of Chambal River in the context of Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) conservation’ conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India categorically states that any further withdrawl of water from Chambal river will seriously affect the gharial, the wildlife and other ecosystem service values of the river. 
I record my dissent on the decision to give permission for the above proposal

Setting up of Jaypee Super Cement Plant from Clinker production 2.01 MTPA to 2.50 MTPA, 2.1 km from Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
My report on the above proposal may be put on record.

Proposal for denotification of entire area of Trikuta Wildlife Sanctuary (31.40 Sq. Kms), Jammu and Kashmir
This denotification sets up a very bad precedent of denotifying entire sanctuaries.
It has been decided this in lieu of the denotification another PA should be declared. As pointed out by Dr MK Ranjitsinh, such a site - double the area of the current notification - should be identified with a proper biodiversity survey,  and put before the Board and first notified as a PA before any denotification of Trikuta Wildlife Sanctuary.

Proposal for diversion of 7.005 ha of protected land from Compartment No.5 of  Bahu Conservation Reserve in favour of Revenue Department for  leasing to the Army, in lieu of the Army land acquired by the Revenue Department.
 The agreement and assurance of transferring revenue land to the army was made by the revenue department, and from the information given there seems to be no role of the forest department while giving this assurance. It was the revenue department which acquired the army land. In such circumstances it would be highly inappropriate for a Protected Area to be diverted; it will set a wrong precedent that part of a Conservation Reserve is diverted in order the meet assurances given by the revenue department.

Proposal for setting up Captive Thermal Power Plant (4x60MW) with 1 MTPA Cement Grinding Unit and 1 MTPA Coal Washery by M/s. J.P. Associates Pvt. Ltd. , 1.5 Kms from boundary of Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
The report for the site visit  for M/s Jaypee Super Cement Plant from clinker production 2.01 MTPA to 2.50 MTPA in Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh (for which my report has been submitted) records that the JP Associates flouted the Forest Conservation Act and ignored the directions of the honourable Apex court, the  directions of  the CEC and the directions of the regional office (Central) of the MoEF.
It came to our notice that construction has already began for the Captive Thermal Power Plant (4x60MW) with 1 MTPA Cement Grinding Unit and 1 MTPA Coal Washery, again without the mandatory clearance.  A clarification and information has been sought from the concerned DFO.  Also in light of the fact that a related matter of the JP Super Cement plant  is subjudice (with information concealed from the  Standing Committee at the time of submitting the proposal), it is judicious that this proposal be very carefully examined, before any decision is taken.

Prerna Singh Bindra
Member, Standing Committee, National Board of Wildlife
April 26, 2011


Monday, 9 May 2011

Additional Letters of previous NBWL - Rhino horn. Objection to road construction. Objection to elephant camps












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FROM INDEPENDENT MEMBERS OF
THE NATIONAL BOARD FOR WILDLIFE


To:
                                                                                                                  October 29, 2008
The Chairman
Central Empowered Committee
2nd floor, Chanakya Bhawan, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi 110 019

Sir,

Sub:  Our Objections to new ghat road proposed through Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu

During its meeting in May this year, the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife cleared a proposal from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department for a new 8.6 km road through the Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary (SGSS) ostensibly for ‘protection’ of the Sanctuary. The clearance was given despite a written objection submitted to the MoEF by independent members on the Standing Committee, Dr. Divyabhanusinh Chavda, Dr. Bibhab Talukdar and Dr. Asad Rahmani.

The details of the written objection are as follows: In Dr Chavda's letter to the Ministry dated 29th February 2008, he has recorded the proceedings of the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee on 19th February 2008 and has clearly stated the following with reference to the Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary (agenda item 3.3(9)):

"In all the above mentioned cases, the non-official members did not approve the proposals put to the Standing Committee".

However, agenda item 1 of the 11th meeting which confirms the minutes of the 10th meeting has twisted their objection by recording the following:

"Further, neither any objection from other members whose names had been indicated in the letter of Dr. Chavada had been raised regarding the minutes nor any confirmation of the stand taken by Dr. Chavada in his letter was received from them. The Chairmain also clarified that all the decisions taken in the last meeting were unanimous and it was accordingly reflected in the circulated minutes..."

We, the undersigned, who are all members of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), strongly object to the way this proposal for a road through a wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats – one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world – has been bulldozed through the Standing Committee of NBWL. A note on the ecological importance of the area and the potential negative impact of the road is appended.

In view of the above facts, we request the CEC to reject the proposal of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department for construction of the road, and direct the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to take up appropriate measures including foot patrols and anti-poaching camps, to protect the area.


Sincerely,

Wildlife Protection Society of India - Belinda Wright
Reef Watch - Mitali Kakar
Wildlife First - Praveen Bhargav
World Wide Fund for Nature - Ravi Singh 
Biswajit Mohanty 
Shekar Dattatri
Brijendra Singh
Dilip Khatau
Valmik Thapar
Bonani Kakkar


Cc:             Member Secretary, National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)
Ministry of Environment and Forests

Encl:             Note on Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary appended




NOTE:

The Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary at Sirivilliputtur in southern Tamilnadu spreads over 480 sq.km.  It is contiguous to Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) on the south western side and the Megamalai Reserve Forest on the north western side. Its southern limit is contiguous with the Sivagiri Reserved Forest of Tirunelveli Forest Division. The sanctuary lies mostly in Virudhunagar District and partly in Madurai District, nestling in the high ranges of the Western Ghats. It is the eastern watershed boundary of the Periyar River and is one of the best preserved forests south of the Palghat gap.  The tributaries of the River Vaipaar and a few rivulets draining into the River Gundaar originate from the hill tracts of this sanctuary. The floral diversity is extremely rich owing to the different types of forest formations due to the altitudinal gradient and rainfall patterns (Source: Tamil Nadu Forest Department).

The SGSS is one of the few wilderness areas in India fortunate enough not to have a road network. In this fragile, hilly habitat roads can only have a destructive impact, leading to erosion, habitat fragmentation, influx of humans and vehicles and incursion of pernicious weeds such as Lantana and Eupatorium.  World over, roads have proven to be the worst enemies of remote forest areas.

The SGSS is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Its diverse habitats are home to equally diverse species – from endangered grizzled squirrels to Schedule I/II species like tiger, elephant, Nilgiri marten and Nilgiri tahr.  What makes this sanctuary even more critical is the fact that it is an invaluable ‘sink’ or buffer area for dispersing tigers from the PTR’s ‘source’ population.  Many endemic species of Western Ghats flora and fauna find refuge in SGSS, including great pied hornbill, lion tailed macaque and Nilgiri langur.

Details of proposed road: 

The Tamil Nadu Government has now proposed an 8.6 km road through this pristine wilderness, connecting Tuggolakilavan Koil to Kamarajapuram. The reason given for this road is that it is required for protection of the sanctuary.  However, it will be abundantly clear to anyone on a site visit, or looking at a topographical map, that this road cannot help with the protection of the sanctuary in any way, and that the only purpose the road will serve will be to connect the aforementioned two points for vehicular traffic. This is apparently a move to circumvent the restrictive provisions of Section 29 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the orders of the Hon Supreme Court in IA 548/2000 in WP 202/1995.

SGSS is an extensive, linear sanctuary and the proposed road will bisect it, fragmenting the sanctuary into two. The road will cut through one of the most crucial elephant corridors in this area and lead to elephant-human conflict by disrupting their natural migratory patterns.  The proposed ghat road will also make it impossible for most animals to cross from one side of the forest to the other, severely affecting gene flows of all wildlife.

We believe that there is absolutely no real justification for this road as the damage it will cause to the ecosystem and to animal movements will be massive and irreversible. As per the Forest Department, 620 trees will have to be cut in the sanctuary for the road. Being a rocky, hilly area, blasting and large-scale earth moving will be necessary. The road will only facilitate illegal activities such as poaching, timber smuggling and ganja transportation. The claim that the road is for protection of the sanctuary is untenable. On the PTR side of the same habitat, effective anti poaching is being done through foot patrols by Forest Guards, and Tamil Nadu can easily adopt a similar system.  In fact, SGSS still has an extensive network of bridal paths laid by the British, which are ideal for foot patrolling.

The Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife has cleared this proposal without due diligence, site inspection or scientific analysis of destruction to wildlife habitat, despite the written objections of its non-official members. 


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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Major decisions of NBWL meeting, March 18, 2010










Letter to PM on 5th meeting of NBWL, March 5, 2010



Letter to Jairam Ramesh about Wildlife Act amendments, Feb 26, 2010


FROM THE NON GOVERNMENT MEMBERS OF
THE NATIONAL BOARD FOR WILDLIFE


To
Shri Jairam Ramesh
Minister for Environment and Forests (I/C)
Paryavaran Bhavan
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi, 110 011

26 February, 2010


Hon’ble Minister,

Sub: Second Letter of Members of the National Board for Wildlife regarding the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2009.


Ref: Our letter and recommendations dated 15 December 2009.

As you are aware, a sub-committee of National Board for Wildlife members was constituted to advise the Government on the amendments to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WPA). The sub-committee, in consultation with other non-official members of the NBWL, analysed the draft amendments in detail and submitted about 80 recommendations.

However, we are dismayed to find that only 25% (i.e. 20 out of about 80) of our recommendations have been included in the final draft of the Bill dated 1 January 2010, and that many of the critical issues that we had pointed out have been omitted. In fact, the members only came to know through media reports that a draft had been finalized and forwarded to the Law Ministry. This gives us the impression that the advise of the members of NBWL, a statutory body under the WPA, is being largely ignored and the consultations are of no importance.

We believe that the present draft has serious flaws and that it will weaken the WPA, making it a disjointed piece of legislation. We are also extremely concerned that a number of our key recommendations have not been taken into account, and frankly we fail to understand the reasons for this.

We are aware that not all recommendations can be incorporated in the Bill. However, having reviewed the final draft we feel that under no circumstances can there be a compromise on the following points, which we would like to re-iterate in the order in which they appear in the Act:

1. In our recommendations dated 15 December 2009, we had suggested the incorporation of a new Section 9-A which criminalises the manufacture, sale and use of animal traps. If the Act and its enforcement are to be strengthened, this provision is essential. We would like to reiterate that the use of steel/iron-spring traps is banned in several countries across the world. These traps can cause extreme injury and even death, not just to animals but human beings as well. We strongly recommend that a definition of such traps, and a provision penalising their manufacture, sale and use be incorporated in the Act.

2. The Bill seeks to delete Section 12 (bb). We would like to reiterate that this is an extremely important provision which ensures that no killing of animals can take place in the name of “population management”. The deletion of this provision will weaken the protection afforded to scheduled species by the Act. We strongly oppose the move to delete this provision. 

3. The Bill seeks to add a new proviso to Section 20 which will allow for the transfer of private land even after the intention to declare an area as protected has been notified. We fear that this will result not simply in multiplying claims but also encourage unhealthy practices such as land-grabbing and profiteering. The entire purpose of Section 20 will be defeated by this proviso. We strongly recommend that this proviso is struck down from the Bill. 

4. The Bill seeks to amend Section 21(b), giving claimants in protected areas six months to claim their rights, as opposed to the two months currently provided for. The settlement of rights for most protected areas across the country already takes an unreasonable amount of time. This amendment will only further exacerbate those delays. Two months is a reasonable period for a claimant to assert his/her rights. We strongly recommend that this amendment is removed from the Bill. 

5. We had recommended that Section 35(8) is amended so that Section 18(A)(1) & (2) apply to National Parks as they do to Sanctuaries, and that Section 38V(2) is amended so that Sections 31 and 35(6) apply to Tiger Reserves as they do to National Parks. Even though they clearly strengthen the protection afforded to protected areas, these amendments have not been included. We strongly recommend that these two amendments are made.

6. We had recommended that Section 38V(5) sub-clauses (i) to (vii) inclusive should be deleted. There is already a procedure prescribed in Chapter IV for settlement of rights in National Parks and Sanctuaries that should apply to Tiger Reserves as well. Any impediment to voluntary relocation violates the Right to Life, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. The sub-clauses put restrictions on an individual’s wish to be relocated outside a Tiger Reserve, which is unconstitutional. We strongly recommend that the sub-clauses are deleted.

7. We had recommended that Section 39(1)(a) is extended to apply to specified plants as it should and does to animals, animals articles, trophies, etc. This amendment has not been included and again, we see no reason why. We strongly recommend that Section 39 is extended to apply to specified plants.

8. The Bill seeks to delete Section 40A of the Act. This is an important enabling provision that empowers the Central Government to ensure that the Act is implemented justly. Including the Central Government in Section 40(4) will not result in the same position, as Section 40A is much broader. It is essential for the Act’s flexibility and we can see absolutely no reason for its deletion. We strongly recommend that Section 40A is not deleted.

9. We had recommended the insertion of a new Section 50(1)(e) which will empower forest officers of the rank of Forest Guards and above to use force to prevent the commission of Category I and Category II offences inside National Parks, Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves. This has not been included. In the face of armed poachers who kill schedule animals and do not even hesitate to attack forest officials, this is an essential power without which forest officers will be unable to effectively enforce the Act. We strongly recommend that this provision is included in the Bill.

10. We had strongly opposed the new categorisation of offences on the grounds that it afforded greater protection to well-known animals, while other similarly endangered species did not get this protection. This is unscientific and arbitrary and should not happen. While some minor changes have been made to Section 50B, we are very disappointed with this. On exactly what grounds do tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos and the other species mentioned in the proposed Section 50B(1)(a)(i) deserve greater protection than any of the other species listed in Schedule I and part II of Schedule II? We strongly recommend and reiterate that Category I offences should apply to all species listed in Schedule I and part II of Schedule II. That Category II offences should apply to all species listed in part I of Schedule II and Schedule III and that Category III offences should apply to all species listed in Schedule IV. Alternatively, the concept of categories should be removed altogether as it will confuse frontline staff and the present Section 51 should be amended simply to increase penalties.

11. We had recommended that Section 50 (3) and 55 be amended to allow Courts to take cognizance on the complaint of a police officer not below the rank of sub inspector. The police are investigating and prosecuting several cases of wildlife crime across the country. It is essential that the Act gives them the necessary powers to do so, rather than be a hindrance to the prosecution of these crimes. We strongly recommend that police officers are empowered under Section 50 (3) and Section 55.

12. The Bill seeks to delete Section 58Y of the Act. The deletion of this provision weakens the deterrent value of the Act as a lower punishment will be prescribed for this offence by Section 50B(3). We strongly recommend that Section 58Y of the Act should not be deleted.         

13. As an additional comment, there is growing concern about the increase in both the size of the peacock feather trade and instances of peacock deaths. We recommend that Section 43(3)(a) is deleted in the interests of conserving our National bird.  

14. Our last comment is that in the Definitions, Section 2, sub-section 37, a comma should be inserted after the words “land” and before the word “vegetation”.

We would like to make it very clear that positioning this amendment on the enhanced penal provisions alone will not achieve the stated goal of increasing deterrence against illegal hunting.

In view of the serious problems with the draft bill, we once again urge you not to push the bill any further towards legislation until the issues highlighted above have been satisfactorily dealt with.


Yours sincerely,


Praveen Bhargav, Wildlife First
Signed on behalf and in consultation with the following members:
Wildlife Protection Society of India - Belinda Wright; Reef Watch - Mitali Kakar; World Wide Fund for Nature-India - Ravi Singh; Bombay Natural History Society - Dr. Asad Rahmani; Dr. Divyabhanusinh Chavda; Valmik Thapar; Biswajit Mohanty; Dr. Bibhab Talukdar; Shekar Dattatri; Mahendra Vyas; Brijendra Singh; Dilip Khatau; Bonani Kakkar

Cc:             Addl. Director General (Wildlife), and Member Secretary, NBWL

Letter to Jairam Ramesh re Pench Highway, Jan 28, 2010



Letter to Jairam Ramesh on Wildlife Act Amendments, Dec 15, 2009



Letter to Jairam Ramesh re CAMPA funds, Oct 14, 2009


Letter to PM, 5th Oct, 2009 re YSR Memorial in forest


FROM THE NON-OFFICIAL MEMBERS OF
THE NATIONAL BOARD FOR WILDLIFE


To:
The Honorable Prime Minister and Chairperson
National Board for Wildlife
South Block
New Delhi – 110 001.

5th October, 2009


MATTER MOST URGENT

Honourable Chairperson,

Sub:    Illegal Order of State of Andhra Pradesh directing the construction of a “Smruthi Vanam” in memory of the late Chief Minister in the notified Gundla Brameswaram Wildlife Sanctuary, in violation of law, procedures and prevailing Supreme Court orders.

Greetings on the occasion of Wildlife Week.

We, the non-official members of the National Board for Wildlife, request your immediate and urgent intervention to prevent the imminent destruction of pristine wildlife habitat in the Gundla Brameswaram Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, where the State Government has ordered the construction of a memorial, “Smruti Vanam”, at the helicopter crash site of the late Chief Minister. 

The Government Order notifying 1412.14 hectares of forestland – G.O. Ms. No. 83 dated 30-09-2009 directing the setting up of the said “Smruti Vanam” (Memorial) is at Annexure 1.

Copy of a press report is at Annexure 2.

The grounds to seek your urgent and immediate intervention are as follows:

1.    The said area falls in the heart of the fully constituted Gundla Brameswaram Sanctuary.

2.   The said Government Order directing the construction of “Smruti Vanam” is in violation of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and connected Rules.

3.   The actions of the State of Andhra Pradesh are in gross violation of the Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in IA 548/2000 dated 14-02-2000 and IA 1220 & IA 994 dated 25-11-2005 which expressly prohibit felling of any trees and construction activity inside a Sanctuary.

4.   Due process of law has not been followed, as the proposal has not been placed before the State Board for Wildlife and the National Board for Wildlife. 

5.   Government of Andhra Pradesh had agreed in 2008 that the said area will be notified as a Core/Critical Tiger Habitat based on which permission to construct the Pula Subbaiah
      Veligonda Irrigation project was granted by the National Board for Wildlife at the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee held on 19th February, 2008 under the chairmanship
      of the Hon’ble Minister of State for Forests & Wildlife. An extract of the decision as recorded in the minutes is at Annexure 3.

The 1140 sq km Gundla Brameswaram Sanctuary is contiguous to the Nagarajunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve and is part of the largest block of Eastern Ghats forest in the country, which is extremely rich in biodiversity.  Any construction activity in this highly sensitive area will cause irreversible fragmentation of an otherwise pristine landscape.
The current proposal to construct a memorial inside a notified Sanctuary will set an extremely bad precedent.

While we fully appreciate the desire of the Government of Andhra Pradesh to honour and commemorate the memory of the late respected leader, we believe that it will be more fitting to develop the proposed memorial in land outside the sanctuary rather than cut trees and destroy part of a pristine forest.  Also, as a tribute to the late leader, and his desire to conserve forests and wildlife, the Sanctuary may be re-named in his memory and this natural breeding habitat left in peace.

It is reliably learnt that there is a continuous influx of people at the crash site, as well as felling of trees, and other activities, which are not only in gross violation of law, and the Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, but also inimical to the conservation of wildlife and protection of the Sanctuary and its habitat. In view of the above facts, we request you to immediately intervene in the matter and advise the State of Andhra Pradesh to rescind the said Government Order and ensure status quo on the ground.

Yours faithfully,

Brijendra Singh

Signed on behalf of and in consultation with the following members:

Wildlife Protection Society of India - Belinda Wright; Wildlife First - Praveen Bhargav; World Wide Fund for Nature-India - Ravi Singh; Bombay Natural History Society - Dr. Asad Rahmani; Reef Watch – Mitali Kakar; Dr. Divyabhanusinh Chavda; Valmik Thapar; B. Mohanty; Dr. B. Talukdar; Shekar Dattatri; Dilip Khatau; Bonani Kakkar; Dr. M.K. Ranjitsinh

Cc:
1)  Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests
2)  The Director General of Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests
3)  The Member Secretary, National Board for Wildlife
4)  The Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority