National Wildlife Board to meet on October eight

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New Delhi, Sept 12 (UNI) The National Wildlife Board, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is meeting here on October 8 against the backdrop of the Environment Ministry's grave concerns over the impact of the Forest Rights Act.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill was passed by Parliament on December 13 last year and it became an Act the same month with the then President giving his assent.

The Forest Rights Bill had been opposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests on the ground that it would hinder the efforts for conservation and protection of the country's dwindling forests and cause irreparable damage to ecology and wildlife.

Sources in the Ministry told UNI that the Forest Department would take up with the Prime Minister some vital issues relating to the Act. The formulation of rules and regulations for implementing the Act is in process.

The new law recognises the right of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers to homestead, cultivable and grazing land (occupied, and in use since December 2005), and to non-timber forest produce.

The Environment Ministry officials fear that these rights will certainly affect the wildlife habitat, especially those of the endangered species like the tiger besides others.

Besides discussing the impact of the new Forest law, the board would give approval to recovery plans for endangered species like great India Bustard, snow leoprad in Himalayas, Markhor- a type of wild goat and Hangul-a Kashmiri stag.

The latest provisional figures about the decline in the number of tigers given by the Wilidlife Institute Of India(WII), Dehradun, will dominate the proceedings, sources said. WII will submit the full report of its tiger census in November, sources added.

UNI

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