Lot of recriminations is doing the rounds, after the recent reconstitution of Indian Board for Wild Life. Lot of apprehensions have been voiced by conservationists regarding the manner in which reconstitution has been done. Many see is it as an attempt to plant guys who are “yes men” for giving clearances to development projects. I think it is carrying things a wee bit too far. The Prime Minister may be a pro-development man and a go getter if he makes a decision, but it is uncharitable to paint him as anti-wildlife. You don’t have to look beyond Gujarat, to see what I am driving at.
The infamous lions poaching case of 2007 in Gujarat hogged the headlines in press across India. Between February and March 2007, organized poachers from Madhya Pradesh had killed eight Asiatic lions in and around the Gir National Park. Narendra Modiji, who was the chief minister of Gujarat, at that time, visited the area twice. Know of any other Chief Minister, who has visited a poaching spot even once? He gave full support to the team of investigators. He was not in the denial mood which is the wont of politicians. He sought help from outside sources also. WPSI Executive Director Belinda Wright chipped in with help for scientific forensic investigation. Chief Minister himself was monitoring the progress of the case regularly. The Gujarat government appointed special prosecutors at all levels up to the Supreme Court to pursue the case. All these resulted in conviction of all 39 accused, a rare occurrence in India.
Yes, I think, you can put Narendra Modiji on the right track if you convince him. That is your job, environmentalists. Look at the bright side of things and work with a positive attitude. You cannot blame the Prime Minister for toeing the development line, in his effort to build a dynamic and prosperous India.
PMO will look at your concerns, if it is genuine. A few days back I sent a representation to the Prime Minister, regarding the plight of wildlife trained forest officers in India. They are given the short shrift, and incompetent, untrained officers posted in wildlife reserves across India, at the behest of politicians, who look for pliant officers. It is a shame that after spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, the trained officers have to sit in office as pen pushers. Others are doing jobs that have nothing to doing with wildlife. This does not augur well for India’s wildlife. PMO has forwarded my representation to ministry of environment for follow-up. They immediately informed me about what is going on. I am sure something positive will come out of this.