THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 November 2018 (The right policy mix for conservation efforts)

The right policy mix for conservation efforts

Mains Paper 1: Environment
Prelims level: Avni incident
Mains level: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Disaster and disaster management


  •  The Avni affair will outlive her. This has become clear over the past few days.
  •  The post-mortem witness report casts doubt on the official version of events that led to the shooting of the man-eating tigress officially known as T1 in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district earlier this month.
  •  A National Tiger Conservation Authority team has begun a probe.

Analysing the incident

  •  The Avni incident is far from unique or new. Human-wildlife conflict is endemic in India.
  •  It is usually portrayed as a negative externality of development activity and the degradation of natural habitats.
  •  There is some truth to this but it is not the entire truth.
  •  That is more complicated. Humans are often the victims economic and otherwise of conservation efforts guided by poorly designed policy.
  •  According to the Union ministry of environment and forests, over 300 million people were directly or indirectly dependent on the forest ecosystem as of 2009.
  •  This includes a large chunk of the country’s most socioeconomically vulnerable population, such as a tribal population of 67.7 million.
  •  Their dependence is multi-faceted from needing forest produce such as fuel wood and non-timber forest products to grazing livestock on the fringes of forests.

Revamping the Forest Rights Act

  •  The Forest Rights Act, 2006 was a pushback against the exclusionary approach.
  •  By explicitly recognizing the rights of locals, it incentivizes them to manage and conserve natural resources.
  •  This has positive spillover effects. Consider the more conventional development versus environment debate. Environmental extremism can lead to impossibly strong safeguards when it comes to development activity.
  •  India’s current environmental protection framework goes too far in the other direction; the thoroughly broken Environmental Impact Assessment process is little more than a rubber stamp.
  •  The FRA can be a useful check, making the consent of local inhabitants and affected gram sabhas mandatory for diverting forest land for non-forestry purposes.

Way forward

  •  Though the FRA has its shortcomings but when it has worked, it has worked well.
  •  In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the FRA and ruled that if forests were to be diverted for mining.
  •  The consent of the gram sabhas of the local Dongria Kondh community would be needed.
  •  There have been similar successes in preventing forest diversion in a number of instances across north and central India in recent years.
  •  In his landmark 1991 Union budget speech, then-finance minister Manmohan Singh said, “We cannot deforest our way to prosperity and we cannot pollute our way to prosperity”.
  •  He was correct. But coming up on three decades since, India has yet to find the right policy and regulatory mix to reflect that realization.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Consider the following statements with regard to a National Park:
1. It is recognized as Important Bird Area by Birdlife International.
2. It is a home to last surviving population of Pygmy hog in the wild.
3. It comes under project Tiger.

Which of the following National Parks is characterized by the above features?

(a) Sariska
(b) Kaziranga
(c) Manas
(d) Rajaji

Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) The killing of the tigress Avni raises complex questions to which India has failed to find answers thus far. In this context how government can revamping the existing forest rights act.