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How the Van Gujjars perceive the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 2021

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    14th Mar, 2022

Context

The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Ministry of environment, forest and climate change in December, 2021. The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).

About

About the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA):

  • The original Wild Life (Protection) Act acts to:
  • prohibits people from hunting wildlife
  • provides legal safeguards for different species based on their threat status
  • regulates trade and commerce in wild species
  • imposes penalties for wildlife-related crimes
  • specifies the terms to declare protected areas
  • The Act has been amended several times, in 1982, 1986, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2006 and 2013.
  • The proposed amendment is likely the most expansive so far in scope: it covers more areas of legislation, from trade in wild species to permitting filmmaking in protected areas and controlling the spread of invasive species.

Key provisions of the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021:

  • Standing Committees of State Boards of Wildlife:
    • The Bill proposes setting up of Standing Committees of State Boards of Wildlife.
    • These committees will function like the National Board for Wildlife NBWL).
    • It will be able to make decisions on wildlife management and permissions granted for projects without having to refer most projects to the NBWL.
  • Rationalization of Schedules for Wildlife:
    • The bill rationalises Schedules for Wildlife under the Act by bringing it down from 6 to 4 major schedules.
    • For example, A schedule I category of wildlife (such as Tigers) are the highest protected under the Act.
  • Wildlife Management Plans:
    • The Bill mandates that Wildlife Management Plans which are prepared for sanctuaries and national parks across the country will now become a part of the Wildlife Act.
    • Further, they will have to be approved by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state.
    • Earlier, the plans were approved through executive orders.
  • There is also the insertion of a new section 42A about surrender of wild animals and products.
  • The inclusion of the new Section 62A (l) that defines alien invasive species.
  • It has mandated the need to consult the Gram Sabha in protected areas falling under scheduled areas or areas recognised to possess forest rights based on claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

About Van Gujjars:

  • The Van Gujjars are a semi-nomadic pastoral community, which continues to practice seasonal migration across forests in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in pursuit of their pastoral livelihood.
  • Van Gujjars being classified as ‘poachers’ rests on the perceptions of criminality embedded while determining lives of de-notified nomadic tribes.
  • In fact, Van Gujjars’ activities such as lopping of leaves enable sustenance of herbivores. It also fosters healthier growth and density of the lopped trees.
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