The Supreme Court of India on 25 August 2014 issued a notice to Union Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) to put on hold 140 projects cleared by newly-constituted National Board for Wildlife (NBW).
The Court issued the notice on the ground that the reconstitution of NBW was not in consonance with the Section 5A of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Besides, the court observed that the Standing Committee of the NBW also was not in consonance with the Wildlife Act.
The hold on the 140 projects will be in effect until the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court. The next hearing will be done after two weeks. However, NBW will continue to function.
The notice was issued by the Supreme Courts Green Bench comprising of Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice J Chelameswar and Justice AK Sikri. It issued the notice on a petition filed by Pune resident Chandra Bhal Singh against the partially constituted NBW. In its petition it had argued that 22 July 2014 notification of the Union government was illegal and unconstitutional because instead of five NGOs on the committee, the notification reduced their numbers to 1. Besides, of 10 members that the Union government was supposed to nominate, only two were nominated.
Earlier on 22 July 2014, Union government had notified the reconstitution of NBW by nominating only three non-government experts and institutions instead of mandatory 15 required under the Section 5A of the Wildlife Act.
Even out of these, it had nominated Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation, which is a Gujarat government’s own institution and headed by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, instead of an independent agency. Another expert it nominated on the Board was a retired Gujarat cadre forest service officer, H S Singh.
The newly constituted committee under Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar cleared most of the 140 projects which were pending due to review on 12 August 2014.
National Board for Wildlife (NBW)
National Board for Wildlife (NBW) is a top body under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, to review all wildlife-related issues. It is a body that is chaired by the Prime Minister and its standing committee is headed by Union Environment Minister. The body is empowered to appraise all projects that fall within or around national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves.
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When: 25 August 2014