Declaration of National Parks under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
What is National Park?
National Park is a place or a park used for conserving the natural flora and fauna and the atmosphere of a place. National Governments create and protect the National Parks. Though Nations create and protect their own national parks individually but the idea of “Conserving the Wild Nature” is common.
The IUCN declared that a national park is a large area of minimum size of 1,000 hectares having following characteristics:-
- Ecosystem that is not exploited and destroyed by the human interference and the plant and animal species and habitats there have a special scientific, educational, and recreational interest.
- Containing a beautiful natural landscape.
- Steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or destruction in the whole area were taken by the Government or Highest Competent Authority.
- Visitors only for inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreational purposes were allowed to enter subject to some restrictions.
- Statutory legal protection.
- Prohibition of activities which destroy or exploit the flora and fauna such as hunting, fishing, the need for management, facilities, building of dams, cutting trees etc.
National Parks in India
Chapter IV “Protected Area” of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 lay down Provisions for declaration, conservation and management of Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks, Tiger Reserves and closed and protected areas.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
The Parliament of India on 9th September 1972 enacted the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for protection of wild animals, birds and plants and for matters related to them and for ensuring the ecological and environmental security of the country. The Act has 66 Sections and VI schedules. The Act imposed restrictions on hunting of animals and cutting of trees from the forests.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 also gives the powers to Central and State Government to establish Protected Areas i.e. Sanctuaries, National Parks, Conservation Reserves, etc for protecting the animal and plant species in that particular region, area or place. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 have provisions for constitution of four types of Protected Areas and they are as follows –
- Sanctuaries – Place where injured, abandoned, and abused wildlife is allowed to live in peace in their natural environment without any human intervention.
- National Parks – Areas set by the government to conserve the natural environment.
- Tiger Reserves – Areas reserved for the protection and conservation of tigers declared on the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
- Community/ Conservation Reserves – The State government may declare any area adjacent to sanctuaries or parks as conservation/community reserves after consulting with local communities or an individual volunteered to conserve the wildlife.
There are 870 notified Protected Areas in India covering an area of 156,700 km2 that is 4.65% of India’s land area.
- 104 National Parks covers 40,501 km2 or 1.21% of India’s total surface area.
- 551 Sanctuaries covers 1,19,776 km2 or around 3.64% of India’s total surface area.
- 88 Conservation Reserves covers 4356.49 km2 or 0.13% of India’s total surface area.
- 127 Community Reserves covers 525.22 km2 or 0.02% of India’s total surface area.
Hailey National Park now known as Jim Corbett National Park was India’s first national park established in 1936. And, till 1970 India was having only 5 National Parks. After enactment of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 many other legislations and enactments were passed by Indian Parliament with a motive to protect and conserve environment, wildlife and other natural resources such as water, air etc. After the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was passed the Central and State Governments had declared many new areas as National Parks and as of now there are total 105 National Parks in India.
Need for National Parks
The main objectives for establishing a National Park:
- Protecting the ecosystem of a particular area or region.
- Conservation of species on the verge of extinction and protecting them from activities like hunting, killing, poaching etc.
- Preserving natural resources and varied species of animals and plants.
National Park declared by State Government
Section 35 – Declaration of National Parks – Section 35 of the Act lay down provision for declaration of National Parks. Section 35 states that a State Government can declare any area as National Park under the following conditions –
- When an area due to its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or zoological association or importance needed to be protected, propagated or developed, than the state government by notification can declare such area as a National Park.
- The provisions of investigation and determination of claims and extinguishment of rights should apply to land or any area declared as a National Park.
- Boundaries of a National Park can only be altered by the State Government on a recommendation of the National Board.
- Any live-stock is not allowed to enter or graze in the National Park except live-stock used as a vehicle by any person authorized to enter National Park.
- The provisions of sections 27 and 28, 30 to 32 also apply to a National Park as they apply to a sanctuary.
- Destruction, removal or exploitation of any wildlife or habitat of any wildlife from a National Park cannot be done by anyone without a permit from the Chief Wild Life Warden. Permit can be granted only if the State Government is satisfied that destruction, exploitation or removal of wildlife from the National Park is for improving the management of wildlife in a National Park.
National Park declared by Central Government
Section 38 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 empowers the Central Government to declare any area as National Park or Sanctuaries. It provides that –
- If the conditions laid down in Section 35 are fulfilled for any area then the Central Government can declare such area to be a National Park and the provisions of sections 35, 54 and 55 should apply to such National Park as they apply to the National Park declared by the State Government.
- Director authorized by the Central Government or any officer authorized by the Director authorized by the Central Government can exercise the powers and duties of the Chief Wild Life Warden of the National Park or Sanctuary declared by the Central Government.
Author: Vikramjit Singh,
Panjab University SSG Regional Centre, Hoshiarpur