New Delhi: The government on Monday introduced a Bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

The Bill provides a legal framework for the protection of various species of wild animals, plants and for the management of their habitat. It also regulates and controls trade in the products derived from them.

The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2013, introduced by environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Monday, seeks to increase the jail term for serious crimes related to endangered animals specified under the Act to not less than five years, with a possibility of extending this up to seven years, “and also with fine which shall not be less than 1 lakh but may extend to 25 lakh".

The provision is the strictest for hunting in a tiger reserve or altering the boundaries of a tiger reserve. “Such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years," the amendment says.

The Bill seeks to confer power of entry, search, arrest and detention on any officer authorized by the management authority or any customs officer not below the rank of an inspector or any officer of the coast guard not below the rank of an assistant commandant. The management authority will be responsible for issuance of permits and certificates regulating the import, export and re-export of any scheduled specimen, submission of reports, among other functions, under the Act.

The proposed Bill also prohibits animal traps and says, “no person shall manufacture, sell, purchase, keep, transport or use any animal trap except with prior permission in writing of the chief wildlife warden given for educational and scientific purposes".

Mint had reported on 4 October that local bodies such as gram panchayats and gram sabhas (village councils) will be given more power under the Wildlife Protection Act, according to an amendment that was approved by the Union cabinet.

They will need to be consulted before an area is declared as a national park or a sanctuary, as per the amendment.

Among other amendments approved by the cabinet, provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were incorporated into the Act.

CITES is an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

The cabinet also approved a proposal to make a representative of the local tribal community part of the management committee of a reserve, which could be tiger reserves, national parks or sanctuaries.

PTI also contributed to this story.

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