Many aspirants for membership even after PMO has cleared list.
The formation of the apex National Board of Wildlife has got stuck in the Environment Ministry with hectic lobbying by people for inclusion even after the list was cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Headed by the Prime Minister, the Board has a fixed number of non-government officials and institutions besides officials and nominated members of Parliament. It is meant to be the apex body taking decisions on issues relating to wildlife. The list of members is required to be cleared by the PMO and has always been a post of prestige for many conservationists and conservation NGOs.
The standing committee of the Board, which is chaired by the Environment Minister, is mandated by Supreme Court orders to review all development and industrial projects coming up inside wildlife zones that have legal protection, such as tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries, as well as those slated to come up within the 10-km zone of these wildlife-rich areas.
With the tenure of the last Board having been lapsed in September 2013, the Environment Ministry has been unable to clear projects that need to be assessed by the standing committee of the National Wildlife Board. These include some coal block proposals as well, sources in the Ministry told The Hindu.
A source in the Ministry explained that while the panel list had been submitted to the PMO and returned with requisite approval, the matter had hit a road block yet again and was being handled at the highest level in the Ministry. The Environment Minister’s office, when contacted, said it did not wish to comment on the matter.
If the names of the non-official members are reworked, the list would have to be sent to the Prime Minister’s office yet again for clearance. Two different sources in the Ministry said the list had initially included names of conservationists K. Ullas Karanth, Brijendra Singh, Ravi Chellam, Asad Rehmani, Sanjay Gubbi, M.K. Ranjitsingh, Erach Barucha and Vivek Menon as individual representatives and WWF, Kalpvriksh, Nature Conservation Foundation and the Centre for Ecological Studies as institutions on Board, besides others.
Once the Environment Minister is able to finally notify the Board and its standing committee, the Ministry would be required to draw up the agenda for the meeting of the standing committee.