A Policy Brief

Wildlife Clearance plays a crucial role in protecting India’s designated protected areas. The wildlife clearances issued by the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (SC-NBWL) for various infrastructure and developmental projects have constantly come under scanner over the years. As per the existing laws, the role of the regulator, i.e. National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has been ensuring promoting conservation and development of wildlife and forests. However, under the pressure of economic growth, NBWL’s role has reduced to merely as a “clearance house” for projects, where most of the infrastructure and developmental projects eventually get a go ahead, even though it may come at the cost of irreversible destruction of precious flora and fauna in biodiversity hotspots. Over the last few years, NBWL has also been criticized by environmentalists and activists over the composition of the board, where the mandatory inclusion of independent experts was overlooked and even the Supreme Court had taken cognizance of the matter. This policy brief aims to give the reader an insight into details of Wildlife Clearance, details related to functioning of NBWL and the controversies surrounding it, some trends and analysis of data around Wildlife Clearance over the past few years and the recent changes in laws which affect the overall regulatory scenario around Wildlife Clearances.  

What is the need of Wildlife Clearance?

Wildlife Clearance is a clearance or permission required from National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), a statutory body created under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as per Supreme Court order to establish any industry or development projects inside or within 10 km radius of any protected area. In the context of protected areas, Wildlife Clearance becomes an additional level of clearance for projects apart from Environmental Clearance and Forest Clearance. Application for obtaining Wildlife Clearance could be for a variety of infrastructure projects ranging from railway projects, highway projects, mining, construction of dams and irrigation projects, gas pipeline, transmission line, establishment of factories, etc.

An application for Wildlife Clearance for any project on Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC)’s website Parivesh Portal seeks various details from the project proponent such as:

  1. Project Area Under Protected Area/Non-Protected Area
  2. Shape of Project (Linear/Non-Linear)
  • Justification for locating the Project in protected area and details of alternates examined
  1. Employment likely to be generated (Permanent/Regular Employment and Temporary Employment)
  2. Displacement of People due to the project, if any
  3. Details of the Biodiversity Impact Assessment report in case the proposal involves use of more than 50 hectares of land
  • Information on the projects undertaken by the proponent agency in the past in Protected Areas
  • Details regarding compliance of the conditions on each proposal

Seeking such details emphasizes the sensitivity of the matter in allowing any projects near or within the protected areas. Many of these projects can lead to irreversible damage disturbing the delicate ecosystem in which the wildlife thrives and they can even bring immense harm to the wildlife.

Read and download the policy brief here: Policy Brief – Wildlife Clearance – Are they really serving the purpose of protecting the Protected Areas?

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