The board met only twice during a period of eight years, says the report

Wildlife conservation efforts in the State seem to be have taken a back seat with State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik managing to meet only twice in past eight years.

The SBWL that advises the State government on the selection and management of protected areas, formulation of policy for protection and conservation of wildlife and specified plants and measures to be taken for harmonising the needs of the tribal people and other dwellers of forest is statutorily required to meet twice in a year.

“The board met only twice during the period of eight years (2003-11) as against the required 16 meetings during the same period as stipulated in the Act,” pointed out Comptroller Auditor General of India in its latest report.

The SBWL headed by the Chief Minister was constituted for a period of two years in September 2003.

Though the tenure of the board expired on September 29, 2005 it was reconstituted on October 16, 2007. CAG report says there was no board functioning from 2005 to 2007.

“As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), the national goal is to set apart 10 per cent of geographical area as protected areas. As against this, the State had only 4.35 per cent covered by sanctuaries and national parks,” the auditing agency says.

It maintains though the first board endorsed the proposals for declaration of five new sanctuaries, no effective steps were taken in this regard.

“The non-formation of the board for two years and non-convening of meetings regularly, action taken by the implementing units or the status of the proposals monitoring was, thus, ineffective,” CAG observes.

According to CAG, out of 19 sanctuaries and two national parks in the State only one sanctuary (Gahiramatha Marine) and one national park (Bhitarakanika) were finally notified in May 2012.

“Despite the provisions in the Act, major sanctuaries have not been finally notified to ensure full legal status. In the absence of the final notification, adequate protection measures such as strengthening anti-poaching initiatives, addressing man-animal conflicts, restoration of habitats, determination of inviolate spaces and relocation of villages from crucial wildlife habitats could not be implemented, as a result, man-animal conflicts and wildlife offence cases increased,” it points out.

“During 2006-11, poaching of 56 elephants and hunting of 372 other animals were reported and the government failed to provide inviolate spaces and critical habitats for wildlife free from human impact.”

In further evidence to insouciant approach of State government to wildlife conservation, audit scrutiny revealed that the wildlife management plans for 20 protected areas were prepared during 2006-11 for a period of ten years.

“Out of this, only nine management plans were approved by the Chief Wildlife Warden and were under implementation. “Management plans in respect of important sanctuaries and national parks like Similipal, Bhitarkanika, and Gahirmatha were not approved due to discrepancies in the plans submitted,” CAG says.

  • The SBWL was constituted in September 2003

  • ‘During 2006-11, poaching of 56 elephants and hunting of 372 other animals were reported’