Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has cleared a proposal to constitute a standing committee for the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL). It will be chaired by the state forest and environment minister.
While the minutes of the August 22 meeting are yet to be officially released, multiple sources within the forest department and SBWL have confirmed the development. “The meeting lasted for hardly six-eight minutes and in that, the proposal to create a standing committee for SBWL was approved by the CM. This will be on the lines of the standing committee for National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) which is headed by the union environment minister,” a senior official from the forest department confirmed.
Like the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is headed by the Prime Minister of the country, the State Board for Wildlife is headed by a Chief Minister. The standing committee for NBWL is headed by the union environment minister and at the state level the SBWL will be headed by its environment minister.
According to the amendment brought to the Wildlife (Protection) Act in 2022, the state boards were to constitute standing committees.
B K Singh former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) Karnataka, said any project located within 10 kms from the periphery of Protected Areas, requires clearance from the standing committee of NBWL.
“SBWL headed by the Chief Minister is only a recommendatory authority for such proposals. The original power is derived from the Environment (Protection) Act. With the amendment in Wildlife (Protection) Act, the State Board for Wildlife is also empowered to appoint a standing committee. We are adding one more layer for recommendation of any project, which is quite unnecessary. It will weaken the institution of Chief Wildlife Warden. Chief Wildlife Warden will have to defend conservation and oppose projects at two levels now onwards or else the person will have to be a puppet in the hands of Chief Minister and Forest Minister. In conservation Vs development debate, conservation always suffers and the action of Government of Karnataka is a new low in this direction,” he said.