The environment ministry’s bid to seek US $ 30 million from the World Bank to checking poaching in around 600 national parks and sanctuaries could mean making India’s wildlife laws compliant with the bank’s norms.
The Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for the proposed project circulated by the ministry speaks about the need to review relevant environmental and land acquisition legislation comply with World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies.
“Adhering to the principles and procedures and using the checklist of potential environmental and social issues laid out in this ESMF will help the implementing agencies to ensure compliance with the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies,” the ministry has said in the document.
India is seeking a loan of US $ 30 million from the World Bank to adopt an integrated national and international approach to checking wildlife poaching, which is now rated as third biggest illegal trade in the world after drugs and weapons. Nepal and Bangladesh have taken funding from the bank for adopting similar approach.
The bank is emphasizing on integrated wildlife protection for entire South Asia, which accounts for 13- 15% of the world`s biodiversity and is considered a lucrative target of the trade.
Illegal wildlife trade from South Asia is perceived to be on rise. “Victims of the trade include the iconic tiger and elephant, the snow leopard, the common leopard, the one-horn rhino, pangolin, brown bear, several species of deer and reptiles, seahorses, star tortoises, butterflies, peacocks, hornbills, parrots, parakeets and birds of prey, and corals,” the ESMF document prepared joint by the ministry and the bank said.
Within south Asia, Nepal has emerged as a hub for illegal wildlife trade destined for China. Myanmar is another important route for transporting wildlife body parts to Laos and Vietnam, two major global transit hubs for illegal wildlife trade.
The ministry is seeking a loan of US $ 30 million from the bank to strengthen wildlife protection measures across 600 national parks and sanctuaries in India, many of which share boundary with neighbouring countries.
The funds are likely to be used for cross border landscape management approach between the countries, relocation of people living in parks and sanctuaries to create inviolate wildlife areas and satellite based monitoring approach. India would also use the funds to strengthen Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, setting up of Virtual Regional Center of Excellence (VRCE) for wildlife conservation and research projects in wildlife conservation.
“The project will focus on a selected set of country-specific initiatives as well as key mutually agreed regional activities that are crucial to attaining the regional strategic goals,” a ministry official said.
The ministry, however, admits that the World Bank funding can impact implementation of environmental laws such as Environment Protection Act of 1986, National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 with applicability of bank’s five policies on environmental protection, natural habitats, forestry, involuntary resettlement and indigenous people.