Centre will seek clarifications on buffer zone order from SC, says Union Minister

Supreme Court | Shutterstock images

New Delhi: The central government will approach the Supreme Court seeking clarifications on its order regarding buffer zones around wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, said Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupendar Yadav in the Lok Sabha. The court order imposing a one-km buffer zone had caused widespread concerns in several states, especially Kerala.

Taking part in a discussion on amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act on Tuesday, the minister said that the clarifications will be sought from the court on paragraphs 44(a) and 44(e) in its order. Para 44(a) of the Supreme Court order bans restricted activities, including building construction, in a radius of one km around wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Meanwhile, para 44(e) allows such activities which were started before the court order was issued with special permission.

The minister also told the Lok Sabha that he would not elaborate on the matter as the case was under the consideration of the court.

Elephants for festivals

At the same time, Yadav said that there would be no restrictions on parading elephants for festivals and transporting them for the purpose in Kerala and other states. “As per the amendments, elephants are included in the list of animals which need a special permit for transportation. But, this rule does not apply for elephants owned by temples and individuals,” said the minister.

Wild boar threat
Earlier, all Members of Parliament (MPs) from Kerala who took part in the discussion explained the situation in the state and voiced the apprehensions of the people living in the buffer zones. The MPs also highlighted the threat posed by wild animals such as boar and elephants invading human territory.

In his reply, Yadav said that chief wildlife wardens of the respective states have already been given powers to declare wild boar as ‘vermin.’ “Following this decision, action has been taken in 10 cases in Kerala,” said the minister. However, Yadav warned that large-scale culling of wild boar could create an ecological imbalance in the forest areas.

Management authority

The main amendment to the Wildlife Act relates to the formation of a management authority to conserve and increase the population of the species included in the protected list in India which has been prepared based on global agreements. The species include mammals, reptiles, aquatic creatures, insects, birds and plants.

The management authority would be headed by an officer in the rank of additional director general appointed by the central government and trade, import and rearing of species included in the protected list could be carried out only with a permit issued by this officer. A scientific panel would be assisting the officer, says the amendment.

Later, the Lok Sabha passed the new Bill by voice vote, rejecting all amendments proposed by the Opposition.

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