The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released their annual report on crimes in India on August 30, 2016. The report, pertaining to 2015 data, brought out statistics on green crimes and provided satisfying data for India as compared to the data released in 2014 – NCRB’s first report on green crimes. Environmental crimes in India shows an eleven per cent drop between the two time periods.
Laws under which violators are booked are Forest Act, 1927, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
“The statistics entirely rely on crimes reported and recorded under five laws. This does not mean that violations have not occurred in the first place. Therefore there is a limitation in stating that crimes have gone down. More importantly whiles rates of environmental crimes and violations are critical to record, they have to be understood along with impacts. A legal violation related to environment or related people’s livelihoods has long lasting and often irreversible impacts which have to be taken into account”, says Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, NAMATI, Central Policy Research Institute (CPRI), to the G’nY correspondent, reacting to the report.
According to the report, the number of green crimes in 2015 came down to 5,156 from 5,835 in 2014. Rajasthan contributed in large measure to the decrease with the number of green violations coming down substantially from 2,927 in 2014 to 2,074 last year. In contrast, the number of green crimes in Uttar Pradesh increased from 1,597 in 2014 to 1,779 in the same year. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh together accounted for nearly 74 per cent of such crimes in the country last year.
The number of people arrested for green crimes is also quite high. Of the 8,034 people arrested (8,011 men and 23 women), 6,335 were put behind bars for violating the Indian Forest Act. Nearly 66 per cent of those arrested were from Uttar Pradesh (2,966) and Rajasthan (2,361). Andhra Pradesh was third in terms of people arrested (1,095), followed by Karnataka (321), Maharashtra (244) and Himachal Pradesh (224).
Analysis of the NCRB data showed that nearly 77 per cent of the crimes were related to violations of the Indian Forest Act where the offenders were booked for illegally cutting trees in forest areas, encroaching upon forest land and moving forest produce without required permission.
The number of green crimes also increased in Jharkhand from 148 in 2014 to 233 last year. Similarly, it increased in Assam from 83 to 105 and in Uttarakhand from 40 to 55.
Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura are the only states which have no reported green crime in both the years.
Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director, World Animal Protection speaking with G’nY correspondent on the encouraging review, said, “It is good to see a significant drop in the green crime rates and the way Government is putting efforts to control forest crimes, which is the key factor to this reduction. But, having said that, there is an equally important and urgent need for proper enforcement of Wildlife Protection Laws to control illegal wildlife trade. Every year, hundreds and thousands of wild animals succumb to this illegal wildlife trade which still continues to happen in many parts of the country for their use in entertainment, exotic pets and traditional medicine.”
He expressed concern that the government is not addressing the issue in totality.
To read the report, visit the NCRB website, ncrb.nic.in and navigate to their publications section.