Questions raised over Environment Ministry’s reorganisation move

Healthy stripes. File  

The Integrated Finance Division (IFD) of the Environment Ministry has raised several questions over a massive reorganisation plan that is expected to impact key units such as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

This was revealed in the IFD’s notes Assam-based environmental activist Rohit Choudhury’s had accessed through a Right To Information application seeking information about the Ministry’s restructuring move.

The Hindu had in May reported on the Ministry’s plan to merge its 10 regional offices and 19 centres of NTCA, Forest Survey of India (FSI), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The plan entails restructuring these into 19 regional offices of the Ministry.

The stated objective of merging regional offices with the NTCA, WCCB, CZA and FSI centres is improving efficiency and ensuring better coordination. But environment and wildlife activists see in the push for this restructuring plan during the COVID-19 lockdown a design to make these key conservation wings of the Ministry toothless.

‘Keep NTCA out’

Mr. Choudhury had on May 13 written to the Environment Ministry for keeping the NTCA out of the proposed reorganisation exercise. He argued in his petition that subordination of NTCA regional offices under the Deputy Director General of regional offices would create unwarranted hierarchy leading to administrative confusion, chaos, inefficiency and inordinate delays in the implementation of Project Tiger and defeat the very purpose of creating the authority.

“Though a section within the Ministry favouring the reorganisation tried their best to hide the real motives behind the exercise, the IFD has not minced words in its observations while maintaining that the statutory provisions for the functioning of NTCA, CZA and WCCB will not be altered,” Mr Choudhury said.

According to its notes, the IFD has sought to know if the proposal was for administrative functioning or involved financial management apart from the impact on NTCA’s existing recruitment rules for several key posts.

Possibility of interference

The IFD also sought clarity on the status of organisations such as NTCA after merger in a scheme, and whether they would be reporting to their headquarters via the regional office headquarters unlike the existing direct access. The possibility of interference in the functioning of these key wings of the Ministry has not been ruled out too.

“The real motive behind the reorganisation proposal seems to be to subsume the NTCA regional offices and make NTCA a dysfunctional entity. The questions raised by the IFD have exposed a hidden agenda,” Mr. Choudhury said.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:54:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/questions-raised-over-environment-ministrys-reorganisation-move/article31922020.ece

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