India is the first country to have made provisions for the protection and conservation of environment in it’s constitution. On 5th June 1972, environment was first discussed as an item of international agenda in the U.N. Conference of Human Environment in Stockholm and thereafter 5th June is celebrated all over the world as “World Environment Day“.
The Wildlife Protection Act was passed in 1972; followed by the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act 1974.
Article 48-A of the Constitution of India provides :-
“The state shall endevour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forest and wildlife of the country”
Article 51-A (g) provides :-
“It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures”
The Act has been adopted by all the states except that of Jammu and Kashmir which has a similar law enacted for the purpose. The operation of the Act is mandatory in the Union Territories as well.
Salient Features :-
- It is a product of process which started long ago in 1887 for the protection of a few wild birds and after addition of wild animals in 1912 and specified plants in 1991 it covered almost all the wildlife resources which need protection and management.
- The Wildlife Act of 1972 as amended in 1982, 1986, 1991 and 1993 has :-
- 7 Chapters
- 66 Sections
- 6 Schedules
- It provides the necessary tool to prevent damage to the wildlife
- In schedule I to V, animals are protected from hunting and the trade and commerce related to such animals is strictly regulated
- The schedule VI was added to include the specified plant species to be protected by the wildlife Amendment Act of 1991
- By the addition of a provision; immunization of livestock within a radius of 5 Kms from a national park or sanctuary has been made compulsory
Section 39 of the Act, declares that every wild animal other than vermin, which is hunted or kept or bred in captivity or found dead or killed by mistake, shall be the property of the state government. Likewise animal articles, trophy or uncured trophy, meat derived from such, ivory; vehicle, vessel, weapon or tool that have been used for committing an offence and has been seized, shall be property of the state government.
If any of the above is found in the sanctuary or a National Park declared by the Center Government, any item seized shall be the property of the Central Government, and such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than One Year but may be extended to Six Years with fine which shall not be less than Five Thousand Rupees.
The key environmental challenges that the country faces relate to the nexus of environmental degradation with poverty in it’s many dimensions and economic growth, connected with the state of environmental resources such as land, water, air, flora and fauna. The status of wildlife in a region is an accurate index of the state of ecological resources and thus of the natural resources base of human well being.
The wildlife is the web of lines, it is our duty to preserve and protect the richness of wildlife as it can be made available to generations.This Act with timely amendments, facilitates the protection of wildlife in India.