NEW DELHI: Seeking to provide more teeth to the existing wildlife protection law, the Centre is looking for an option to introduce clauses of stricter punishment and to change the law to bring it in sync with international conventions which target the trade in endangered species. One of the proposals is to increase the penalties from existing Rs 500-Rs 25,000 to Rs 5,000-Rs 50 lakh for different violations under theWildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and making provisions for imposing a separate penalty for offences related to hunting in tiger reserves. Though the environment ministry has not yet prepared any new formal draft of such changes, officials had discussion on the issue within the ministry keeping in mind the earlier draft that was prepared three years ago.
"The idea behind such discussions is to arrive at a decision for making the existing law much more stringent so that it can act as an effective deterrent to poachers and traders of parts of wild animals", said an official. He said India was a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and it was obligatory for the country to bring in necessary legislative changes to facilitate implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
The discussions on the issue were also held within the ministry as part of the country's preparedness for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the CITES which will be held in Johannesburg next month.
Besides introducing the stricter punishment for different offences under the wildlife law, the proposals are also meant for introducing provisions for grant of permit for scientific research, allowing certain activities like grazing, movement of livestock and bonafide use of drinking and household water by local communities in wildlife areas and protection of hunting rights of Scheduled Tribe in the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The amendment, if any, in the existing law will also be meant for prohibition on use of animal traps (except under certain circumstances). It will also make provisions relating to the CITES so as to control illegal international trade in wildlife.
"Most of these proposals were, in fact, part of the earlier amendment Bill that was drafted during the UPA period in 2013. Idea is to fine-tune such provisions through consultations, incorporating suggestions of stakeholders including wildlife conservationists in the amended law", said the official.