MPs’ panel lends voice against elephant trade

April 15, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:44 am IST - New Delhi

‘Scrap exemption granted in new Bill’

An elephant drinking from a wayside tap in Allahabad.AFPSANJAY KANOJIA

An elephant drinking from a wayside tap in Allahabad.AFPSANJAY KANOJIA

Do not encourage sale and purchase of captive elephants, the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, headed by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, has recommended.

The parliamentary panel has urged the Union government to remove the controversial clause in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 that overrides the original Act, making an exception only for elephants. The amended Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17, 2021 and was referred to the parliamentary panel on December 25. The panel will hold a final round of meeting on Monday on its report on the legislation.

Section 43 of the principal Act clearly states: “No person having in his possession captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale or by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal or article or trophy or uncured trophy.”

The amended Bill introduces an exemption clause for elephants.

The amended Bill introduces an exemption clause to Section 43, which says: “This section shall not apply to the transfer or transport of any live elephant by a person having a certificate of ownership, where such person has obtained prior permission from the State government on fulfilment of such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.”

‘Careful balance’

The standing committee has strongly recommended the deletion of this exemption clause for elephants.

The committee has argued for a “careful balance” between traditions and conservation. “The Standing Committee is deeply conscious of the fact that a number of religious and cultural institutions in some States own elephants which play a crucial role in daily worship and rituals.

That is why it has attempted to strike a careful balance to ensure that age-old traditions are not interfered with while at the same time addressing widespread concerns that nothing should be done to even give an impression that private ownership of elephants and trade in them is going to be encouraged,” the committee report accessed by The Hindu read.

The committee at the same time has recommended that the government could bring in additional checks to allow sale and purchase by religious institutions.

The 2021 amendment Bill proposes 50 amendments in the existing Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

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