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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

‘Special interest in wildlife’ enough to get into Madhya Pradesh board

Ajay Dubey, an Right to Information activist, and a senior journalist working for wildlife conservation have raised questions over their selection.

india Updated: Aug 08, 2019 15:28 IST
Ranjan
Ranjan
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
The state government had issued an order on August 3 reconstituting the 30-member board mandated to clear projects in animal zones for three years.
The state government had issued an order on August 3 reconstituting the 30-member board mandated to clear projects in animal zones for three years.(HT image)
         

Activists have said they will challenge the Congress government’s appointment of some members to the newly-reconstituted Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board on the basis of their “special interest in wildlife” and a person accused in the Vyapam scam.

The state government had issued an order on August 3 reconstituting the 30-member board mandated to clear projects in animal zones for three years. The board is headed by chief minister Kamal Nath and forest minister Umang Singhar is its vice-chairperson.

The members include chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh, additional chief secretaries of forest and tribal welfare departments, principal chief conservator of forest, managing director of MP Tourism Development Corporation, three Congress MLAs and environmentalists and experts in the field of wildlife conservation etc.

Senior journalist Rasheed Kidwai, politician Krishna Kumar Singh, both from Madhya Pradesh, and Brijendra Singh from Delhi have been named as ‘environmentalists/experts’ — the three out of eight such members. And, the reason for their selection is their “special interest in wildlife”.

Ajay Dubey, an Right to Information activist, and a senior journalist working for wildlife conservation have raised questions over their selection.

“A special interest in wildlife can’t be a criterion to select a member… Anybody can have a special interest in wildlife but the board needs experts to contribute for wildlife welfare,” Dubey said.

The activist also pointed out that the government has nominated Vyapam accused Fundelal Marko as the board’s member under the category of MLAs in the list.

“The Congress has been raising its voice against the Vyapam scam for a long time. It’s ironical that its government has selected as its wildlife board member a Vyapam accused,” Dubey added.

He said the reconstitution of the board was flawed and that he would move the court challenging its legal validity.

Journalist Lalit Shastri alleged he along with eight others got a letter from the chief wildlife warden U Prakasham that they were going to be nominated on the board but five of them were dropped.

Shashtri said the government should have told them the reasons behind dropping their names.

“This can’t be done in an arbitrary manner,” he alleged claiming a special interest in wildlife does not make anyone eligible to become a member of the board.

“One must work in the field of wildlife conservation,” he said.

Retired additional principal chief conservator of forest JP Sharma said, “By writing special interest in wildlife against names of three members the government itself has admitted that they are not experts whereas in such an important body there should be none except experts.”

Fundelal Marko said charges against him have not been proved.

“Though an FIR was registered against me in connection with Vyapam, neither charges have been framed against me nor have I been tried in the court. CBI is investigating the matter and truth will prevail,” Marko said.

KK Singh said he has been the member of the board twice earlier. “Then nobody raised any question. If the government has against nominated me on the board it must have looked into rules and regulation,” Singh added.

Rasheed Kidwai and Brijendra Singh couldn’t be reached for their comments.

Chief wildlife warden U Prakash said he is not authorised to comment on the issue.

“I have not received any complaint regarding any anomaly in the board reconstitution. I will certainly look into it if I receive any complaint,” forest minister Umang Singhar said.

First Published: Aug 08, 2019 14:39 IST

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