| Centre plans to set up wildlife crime
New Delhi: Concerned over increasing assaults on wildlife and forest
wealth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as head of the National Board
for Wildlife, has decided to set up a ‘wildlife crime bureau’ on the
lines of the highly successful Narcotics Control Bureau.
This was communicated to a Supreme Court bench comprising justices
Y K Sabharwal, Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia by solicitor general
G E Vahanvati even as the court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) to look into a recent case related to the seizure of 43 leopard
skins in Delhi.
The bench asked the CBI to ‘unravel the main persons behind the illegal
trade in animal skins’ and submit a report on the April 6 seizure
of animal skins within three months. The court observed that those
caught are usually the carriers of the skins or the agents of the
mastermind behind the illegal trade. This results in unabated poaching
of animals, driving many of them to the edge of extinction.
On the setting up of the wildlife crime bureau, Vahanvati said, “The
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has taken proactive steps
to stop poaching and a proposal for creating a ‘wildlife crime bureau’
on the lines of the narcotics bureau has already been approved by
the National Board for Wildlife, headed by the prime minister.’’
The PM had recently asked the CBI to probe reports that there were
no tigers in the Sariska National Park, a tiger reserve. The agency
confirmed the reports. The court has issued a notice to the Centre
on an application by environmentalist Ashok Kumar seeking similar
probe into the affairs of all Project Tiger reserves.
The affidavit filed by the MOEF said the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
(WCCB) would act as a ‘multi-agency unit with full-time officers from
forest and wildlife departments, and various para-military forces.
“The proposed national WCCB, with its headquarters at New Delhi and
nine regional offices, shall require the creation of 260 new posts
at various levels to ensure its operational efficacy and to meet the
objectives set,’’ the ministry said. PTI