MoEF sets up committee to study legal cover for elephant habitats
A panel has been set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) with the objective to review how elephant reserves and corridors across the country can get a higher level of legal protection under existing green laws.
Objective: The step has been taken comes after the National Board for Wildlife raised concerns about lack of legal cover for elephant reserves and corridors against changes in the vast landscapes that pachyderms occupy in the country.
What are the problems faced by environment ministry to bring legal safeguards for Elephant habitats? What is the job assigned to the committee?
The central government has identified 32 elephant reserves spread over 69,582 sq km encompassing not only forest patches of different kinds but also villages, townships, agricultural land, tea plantations and revenue land.
Currently, the environment ministry provides additional funds to its elephant reserves programme but this does not automatically ensure a higher level of legal protection against changes to the demarcated area such as in the case of tiger reserves (which are in most cases forest land).
What are the problems faced by environment ministry to bring legal safeguards for Elephant habitats?
The ministry is facing problems over how to regulate activities detrimental to the pachyderm while not hurting the rights of people inhabiting in these zones. Unlike in the case of national parks, tiger reserves and sanctuaries, the government faces peculiar difficulties in protecting elephant habitats. Elephants can traverse hundreds of kilometres annually, running through cities, villages and forest land that are contested by many stakeholders holding or wanting rights to the lands for varying activities ranging from mining to sustenance of tribals.
What is the job assigned to the committee?
The panel will be chaired by Vinod Rishi, retired senior forest officer, along with the director of Project Tiger as member convener.
The task before the panel is to examine whether the existing network of elephant reserves and corridors sufficiently cover the animal’s habitat and what kind of legal cover can be introduced to these lands under existing green laws as recommended by the Elephant Task Force. The committee will assess the impact of wildlife protection regulations on people living or utilizing the land falling under elephant reserves and corridors.