Representative Image: Anu Prasanth/ Mathrubhumi
New Delhi: Environment Minister Bupender Yadav on Wednesday tabled the Wild Life (Protection) Bill in the Rajya Sabha that seeks to include a dedicated framework to regulate or ban international trade of endangered species as well as permit certain traditional activities of communities living around forest areas.
The bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session of Parliament.
The minister said there were two main objectives of the bill which includes bringing the international treaty that India has signed into the legal framework.
"Along with this, some level of protection to people living in forest area for their livestock and traditional rights was necessary till the time they are completely relocated," Yadav said.
The bill seeks to amend the principal Act for better management of protected areas. It inserts an explanation to provide for certain permitted activities such as grazing or movement of livestock, bona fide use of drinking and household water by local communities.
The minister said the bill has been brought in to strengthen local administration and give relaxation to the local community.
Congress Party member Vivek K Tankha said that the power to act on wild life was vested with the states but it has now been moved to the concurrent list.
He said when Wild Life Protection Act 1972 was enacted, 11 states had passed resolutions that they want central enactment to address the subject at the national level.
Tankha said the amendment proposed in the new bill deals with several international treaties.
"Still there are some matters that in my opinion have been left out. No matter with how much concentration you draft the bill, if it does not go to the standing committee or select committee, there will always be areas which get left out," Tankha said.
He said section 43 of the bill permits transfer and transportation of elephants for religious and "any other purpose" which makes things very vague.
The Congress MP referred to a data by non-profit organisation PETA which shows that there are 2,675 captive elephants and 1,251 have ownership certificates.
Tankha also asked to bring in provisions for third party complaints to prevent illegal captivity of endangered species.
CPI(M) member John Brittas said there was deliberate design in every action of the government to usurp power of the states and opposed the bill.
"I am astonished that my colleagues from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha are welcoming this bill without understanding the so-called scheme of this government to get into the powers of the states," Brittas said.
He demanded that the rights of the states and the livelihood of people should be protected.
DMK member Kanimozhi NVN Somu sought allocation of Rs 2,000 crore to Tamil Nadu for enhancing wild life protection and conservation activities.
BJP members Birjlal and Rakesh Sinha, BJD member Sulata Deo, YSR Congress member Ayodhya Rami Reddy Alla, RJD member Manoj Kumar Jha, JD (U) member Aneel Prasad Hegde, TDP member Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar, Tamil Maanila Congress (M) member G K Vasan, and CPI member Binoy Viswam participated in the discussion that could not be completed and was extended to the next day.