National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is the apex body of India for all wildlife related policies and is a project approval body for all projects that set up inside wildlife protected areas, wildlife-rich areas. Prime Minister of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the National Board for Wildlife. The Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate change is the Vice-chairman of the Board.

NBWL was constituted in 22nd September 2003 under Section 5 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 by replacing Indian Board for Wildlife which was formed in 1952. The NBWL has 47 members including the Chairman. Among them, 19 are ex-officio members. The members other than ex-officio members include 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok Sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha), 5 NGO’s and 10 ecologists, conservationists, heads of Central Zoo Authority, National Institute of Oceanography, Zoological Survey of India and environmentalists. The term of office of the members other than ex-officio members are three years from the date of constitution.


During the 1970’s the Government of India appointed a committee for recommending legislative measures and administrative machinery for ensuring environmental protection. Accordingly, a comprehensive central legislation was enacted in 1972 called Wildlife (Protection) Act for providing special legal protection to Indian wildlife and to the endangered species of fauna in particular. The Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 has been amended, the latest being in 2006. As per the amendment of the Act in 2002, a provision was incorporated for the constitution of the NBWL.

NBWL Standing Committee

Standing Committee of NBWL is an independent body under NBWL. Standing Committee comprises not more than 10 members of the NBWL. Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate change chairs the Standing Committee. Standing Committee is completely a project clearance body while NBWL is a policy decision body which advice and takes part in Central Government’s policies related to wildlife protection. From 2015 to 2020, during the period of five years, Standing Committee has granted 680 projects clearances. Standing Committee has approved hundreds of projects that go through National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries from its constitution in 2003 as well as rejected many projects of central and state governments.


NBWL has been facing several criticisms related to their project approval and rejection. NBWL has not conducted a meeting from 2014 to 2020 with its all 47 members in attendance  since it is legally mandatory to meet at least twice a year. But Standing Committee frequently conducts meeting of its members. Some approvals granted by NBWL faced severe criticism. NBWL granted coal mining approval in Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts of Assam which is the largest lowland tropical rainforest in India. NBWL has rejected Karnataka Government’s request of Ankola – Hubballi railway line through Western Ghat.

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