Critical Wildlife Habitat: What is it, how should it be implemented, and how is it being pushed through?
As of mid-2020, no Critical Wildlife Habitats (CWHs) had been notified in the country. However, triggered by a petition in Mumbai High Court, the Maharashtra Forest Department constituted 54 Expert Committees for identifying CWHs in 54 Protected Areas (PAs) in the state in 2018-19, and processes towards declaration of a CWH began in Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary in 2019, leading to much controversy and eventually a stay by the Court. This report seeks to clarify in simple language the core legal provisions relating to CWH, their interpretation, and the processes that would be necessary for their proper implementation on the ground. The CWH provisions lay down a rigorous process to be followed to resolve any potential tensions around wildlife conservation.