In a jolt to the Narendra Modi government, the Supreme Court Monday restrained it from implementing any decisions taken by the newly constituted national board for wildlife (NBWL), which clears commercial projects in forest and wildlife areas.
The order by a special forest bench headed by Justice JS Kehar came after counsel ADN Rao, assisting the bench in environment related cases, pressed for a stay on the operation of the board that has come under attack from several NGOs for violating the provisions of law. It issued a notice to the Centre and ministry of environment and forests for its response to a PIL challenging NBWL’s constitution.
Rao said the petition filed by environmentalist Chandra Bhal Singh required an immediate stay as the members to the board were appointed in blatant violation of the wildlife act. NBWL grants clearances to all projects falling within 10 kilometers area of a national park or sanctuary, he said.
Notified on July 22, 2014 NBWL has only two non-official members in place of 10 and one quasi-government organization in place of five independent NGOs. Instead of nominating a representative each from 10 states and union territories by rotation, only five have been chosen.
There was no NBWL for more than ten months.