The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), a statutory body under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which oversees the implementation of wildlife laws, is waiting to be reconstituted by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The body, headed by the prime minister, and its standing committee headed by the environment minister, apprises all projects falling within protected wildlife areas or within 10-km range.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had said last week the ministry was reviewing the case of setting up a radar station at the Narcondam Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. NBWL had rejected permission for the Narcondam project, as it would adversely impact the habitation of hornbills. NBWL headed by then Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had said the project would result in the extinction of the species.
However, Javadekar clarified that the ministry would not compromise on environment protection in Narcondam. "In Narcondam and other areas, we will ensure complete protection of nature, including that of hornbills. We won't compromise on environment protection," Javadekar tweeted on last Friday.
The Board has senior bureaucrats, forest officials, select ministers and MPs, activists and experts on wildlife-related issues as members. The standing committee is tasked under the Supreme Court orders to review all projects that fall within or in close proximity to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
The tenure of the last Board was completed in September last year and it has not been reconstituted since then, while applications for several projects, including some coal projects, piled up for clearance before the standing committee.
Although the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had initiated steps to reconstitute the board after the model code of conduct was imposed, it had to stop after the Election Commission did not approve of the move.