SC approves govt move on apex green committee

The Supreme Court on Friday approved the Centre’s decision to reconstitute the prime minister-headed National Board for Wildlife (NBW) with “independent” members in a decision which would pave the way for clearing of about 165 big infrastructure projects.

A green bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu took on record submission made by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who said that independent members had already been incorporated in the board.

The apex court had, on August 28, restrained the newly-constituted NBW from clearing any project falling in and around national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves. The court's order had come on a public interest litigation contending that the committee’s re-constitution was not done in consonance with the Wildlife Act, 1972.

Chandra Bhal Singh, a wildlife enthusiast and resident of Pune, challenged a July 22, 2014 notification changing the constitution of the board.

The NBW has been re-constituted with eight new members, Rohatgi said, prompting the court to dispose of the petition.

The NBW is very crucial in the sense that it is the apex body under the chairmanship of the prime minister under the 1972 Act and its standing committee, headed by the Environment Minister, is entrusted with the task of reviewing projects. A fresh committee under Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had on August 12 cleared most of the 140 projects, awaiting review by the panel.

The petitioner had claimed that the July 22 notification did not give due representation to the members of the society at large, including the NGOs and scientists community, thereby becoming “illegal” and in “gross violation of the law and Constitution”.

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