Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022

The Rajya Sabha on December 08, 2022 passed the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 which seeks to give effect to India's obligations under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ('CITES'), which requires countries to regulate trade of all listed specimens through permits.

  • The Bill, which will amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to increase the species protected under the law, was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 02, 2022.

Objectives of Bill

  • Protection of Endangered Species: Bill seeks to enhance punishment for illegal Wildlife trade.
  • Better Management of Protected Areas: It provides for certain permitted activities like grazing or movement of livestock and Bonafide use of drinking and household water by local communities.
  • Protection of Forest Lands: It is so critical because it equally inculcates in itself the protection of rights of the people who have been residing there since ages.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  • Implement the Provisions of the CITES: CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  • Provides much more power at the hands of the Central Government: The central government can designate a Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for the trade of specimens.
    • Central Government can regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
    • The central government may also notify a conservation reserve.
  • Currently, there are six schedules: protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one). The new bill removes the schedule for vermin species (Vermin refers to small animals that carry diseases and destroy food e.g. Monkeys, Nilgai)
  • The Act entrusts the Chief Wildlife Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.
    • The Chief Wildlife Warden is appointed by the states.
  • People possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
  • The bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals, without any compensation and consequent authority over the animal.
  • The Bill allows for commercial trade in elephants.
  • States can declare areas adjacent to National parks and Sanctuaries as Conservation Reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.
  • Increases the Penalties: For General violation (increases to Rs 1,00,000 from Rs25,000) and for specially protected animals ( increases to 25,000 from Rs 10,000).

Issues with the proposed Bill

  • Some important issues regarding Human-Wildlife conflict, Eco-sensitive zone rule, etc., has not been addressed.
  • The bill severely curtailed the ability to graze across pastoral spaces in the conservation areas
  • According to the report provided by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, species listed in all three schedules of the Bill are incomplete.
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee objected to the blanket exemption, recommending to limit it only to temple elephants kept for religious purposes.

Related Constitutional Provisions

  • The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds was transferred from State to Concurrent List.
  • Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.