Lok Sabha passes Bill to implement global norms on endangered species

Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed by voice vote the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill-2021 that seeks to provide for implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17, 2021. It seeks to amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said 41 members participated in the debate and all of them unanimously welcomed the amendments proposed to the Bill.

Elaborating the objectives of the Bill, Yadav said a management committee is necessary for proper exports as per the CITES agreement. “When we export a product from our country, we will certify that no poaching of endangered species has been undertaken for that item,” he said.

Dispelling members’ apprehensions about elephants being taken by a trust in Jamnagar, Yadav referred to a judgment of the Karnataka High Court that was upheld by the Supreme Court.

“There has been a religious and cultural tradition in the country. If we had reared elephants, it would have been done with respect. We have adopted elephants with our lifestyle in Kerala and other places also…Regulation will be done by the central board but we will follow our tradition, cultural tradition to continue the protection of elephants,” Yadav said.

Responding to Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remarks, Yadav said the government has drafted the Bill after having consultations with all stakeholders.
Earlier, participating in the debate, Chowdhury said that the Bill should have been opened for more time in order to garner public views. He also asked the government what measures it will take to curb the smuggling of wildlife.

Initiating the debate, Congress member Pradyut Bordoloi said that this is one of the “rare” Bills that has been referred to the Standing Committee. “Consultation is a very important part of democracy. In the UPA regime, about 71 per cent Bills were referred to the Standing Committees for discussion. But unfortunately, that figure has now come down to 11 per cent,” Bordoloi said.

Raising the issue of transportation of a large number of elephants to Jamnagar by a prominent industrialist, Bordoloi said, “A scientific study has to be done to see whether elephants can survive in a non-family atmosphere and that is very important.”

BJP member Kirti Vardhan Singh said the Bill not only fulfils the provisions of the CITES but also covers all aspects of conservation, protection and management of wildlife in the country.

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