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Amendment in Wildlife Protection Act to Control Crimes: Jairam Ramesh

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ministry of Environment and Forests is in process to amend Wildlife Protection Act to control wildlife crimes. Speaking at the opening of Bengal Tiger Consultation organized by Wildlife Conservation Trust, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (I/C) informed there is a need to strengthen this act by introducing suitable changes and stringent measures. Long judicial procedure and paltry sum as penalty does not help to nab this problem. The Minister informed, with the help of Supreme Court, Attorney General of India and other judiciary members we will introduce sections like attaching property and heavy fine. Responding to three points regarding conservation, poaching and relocation of tribal villages from core areas to save tigers and their habitat pointed out by Dr Karan Singh earlier, Shri Ramesh said the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is active, but we are making local people part of these activity which will definitely help us. He also informed about introduction of a tri-partite Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) between the Ministry of Environment and Forests, State governments and Tiger Reserve Management to ensure effective tiger conservation. Recently van-gujjars have been involved into this process and this model will work effectively, he added. He also said the border areas will be strengthened to prevent crime.

Regarding conservation and preservation of forests, Shri Ramesh said the Ministry has broken a deadlock after seven years with the help of judiciary and got CAMPA fund released which will be used in regeneration of forests. Within next six years, 6 million hectares of land will be brought under green cover which will provide one of the largest carbon sink in the world. The minister expressed hope that with expansion of forest cover, and sustainable forest management, India’s proposal to the UNFCCC at Copenhagen should be accepted with REDD+ aspect. Giving examples of Silent Valley which was saved by Late prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Shri Ramesh said it symbolizes tough challenge and tough choice too. He said with positive vision and courage, degradation was avoided and today we do not regret it. We soon will celebrate this vision and courage in near future. He hoped to have more Silent Valleys in the country.

Informing about rejecting two proposals by the ministry to make a six lane road via Tiger Reserve area and broad gauge railway line in Western Ghats, Shri Ramesh said we can not destroy tiger habitats and forests. He said the preservation of forests is a big challenge. In last couple of years the pristine land has been diverted for developmental activities or for other purposes but now we will not have development at the cost of environment. He also talked about Green Tribunal which will deal with cases of environment and forests problems which are languishing in courts. These courts will work as special environment courts.

Regarding relocation of families from the core area of Tiger Reserves, he said there are 80,000 to 1,00,000 families in total to be relocated from core areas of Tiger Reserves. This is not an easy task. It is a prolonged, time consuming proposition. Ministry has increased the amount of Rs 10 lakh per family and relocation will be done after consultation with families in transparent and democratic manner. The Minister also wished to achieve synergy between Forest Acts and Tribal Acts. Shri Ramesh said out of 37 Tiger Reserves,17 are in precarious situation.

More than 1500 children took part in this two day Bengal Tiger Consultation. People from all walks of life, Environmentalists, teachers and parents participated in “Bagh Bachao, Jungle Bachao, Mausam Bachao, Bharat Bachao” campaign.

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