Bombay High Court directs expert panels to help identify ‘critical wildlife habitat’

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti on the issue of protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

The Bombay High Court on Monday directed expert committees to notify scientific data and objective criteria to identify and demarcate ‘Critical Wildlife Habitat’ area in the state.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti on the issue of protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

In January 2017, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) had set up guidelines on the demarcation of critical wildlife habitats under the Wildlife Act, 2006. As per the guidelines, the committees set up by the state government had to identify and notify critical wildlife habitat.

On the previous hearing, the court was informed that there are 49 wildlife sanctuaries and six national parks in Maharashtra. The government pleader had also informed the court that the state government had formed 36 committees for identifying critical wildlife habitats in August 2018.

The petition states that no steps have been taken in the case since the committees were set up.

On Monday, Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said the animal in sanctuaries should not be disturbed. He said the government was only interested in the funds received from the UN. “The main problem is that lot of UN funding is coming… If they show that number of tigers is going up, then they will get more funds,” the court said.

The Chief Justice also said that the “tribal man is thrown out and rich man enjoys the wildlife and scenery”.

The court said the state government should look into the matter. It added that the government could not simply issue a public notice notifying a particular area as a critical wildlife habitat.

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