Over 70 responses received against proposed amendment to Wildlife Protection Act

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Stating that the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has not been based on widespread consultation, Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said, it is poorly drafted and has huge shortcomings.

Taking to Twitter, Jairam Ramesh, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said: “The Standing Committee has a very complicated task of examining the 50 amendments proposed. We hope to complete this exercise in the next 45 days.”

The Committee received over 70 responses from experts and institutions on the proposed amendment.

“Frankly, this is what the Ministry should have done in the first place,” he said.

There has been widespread outrage against the proposed amendments and activists have been critical of the government’s intention and the hurried manner in which it was set to be passed since it was introduced in the Parliament in December last year. It was a protest letter by Jairam Ramesh to Lok Sabha speaker that ensured that the government sent the Amendment Bill to the Standing Committee.

One of the stakeholders, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has urged the government to remove what they termed as cruel captive elephant trade and also the misnomer ‘vermin’ from the proposed amendments.

After submitting its proposals to be considered for the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove provisions from the bill that would allow the cruel commercial trade of captive elephants, a practice universally condemned.

The PETA also demanded to remove the provision that declares wild animals as ‘vermin’ – a term that denies society’s understanding of the nature of wildlife – thereby allowing their killing.

“The definition of ‘vermin’ is archaic and declaring certain wild animals ‘vermin’ in order to kill them in human-wild animal conflict areas is a colonial concept which violates Articles 14, 21, 51-A(g), and 48A of the Constitution of India,” PETA India said and recommended that the government implement the already established humane, scientific, and effective alternative methods for preventing and mitigating human-animal conflicts.

PETA India, however, welcomed the increased penalties for wildlife related crimes. In a statement, it also commended the central government for including a new chapter for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix species in the Bill, in order to confer them protection in the country.

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