The SBWL is a statutory body deciding on project proposals involving tiger reserves, national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries and corridors. However, the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022, has granted powers to the states to constitute standing committee (SC) of SBWL by amending Section 6 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
“As decided at the 20th SBWL meeting held on May 2, 2023, to set up SC of SBWL, after marathon discussions, a proposal was submitted to the state government on August 28, 2023,” said Maheep Gupta, PCCF (wildlife), Maharashtra.
Gupta added, “The SC will be a 12-member body chaired by the forest minister. The members will be chosen from among the SBWL constituted on July 26, 2023.”
Now, all project proposals will first come to the SC of SBWL for scrutiny. The projects requiring less than 5 hectare forest land outside protected areas (PA) will be approved by the SC, or forwarded with its recommendation to the 31-member SBWL.
Proposals that involve more than 5 hectare forest land and are within PAs will be sent by the SC with its recommendations to the SBWL for consideration and approval. Similarly, all mining related proposals will be forwarded by the SC with its recommendations to the SBWL for consideration and approval.
The SC of the SBWL will have its own rules and working guidelines, and any decision taken by the committee will not be illegal in the case of vacancy of any member or its constitutional shortcomings. The committee will meet once in every two months.
The present SBWL has 31 members. Now, the 12-member SC of SBWL from among the 31 members will include one MLA, one NGO, and three non-government members including one SC/ST. The term of these members will last for three years.
The five others will include principal secretary (forest), PCCF (HoFF), and representatives from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), and Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
Sources said the proposal has been submitted to the state and will be approved through a GR soon.