Government has notified that Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory advisory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) will now be permanently chaired by a senior MoEF official.
Recently, new Board of 18 members, chaired by Sharad Singh Negi, Special Secretary and Director-General (Forests), MoEF came into effect for three years term.
Previously in AWBI’s 55-year history, it was always chaired by somebody outside government, such as veterinarians, animal welfare activists or retired judges. But in recent times due to differences between AWBI and MoEFCC, especially on the conduct of the Jallikattu, Central Government exerted its primacy in the management of the organisation.
About Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)
- The AWBI is a statutory advisory body established in 1962 under Section 4 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
- It frames a range of rules on how animals ought to be humanely treated everywhere. It has also frequently litigated to have stricter laws to ensure animals were not unduly harassed or tortured.
- Initially it was within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Later in 1990, the subject of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was transferred to the MoEFCC.
- Well-known humanitarian and former parliamentarian (late) Rukmini Devi Arundale was instrumental in setting up the board and was its first chair.
- The Board consists of 28 Members, who serve for a period of 3 years. Its headquaters is located at Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
- Several government organisations, along with animal rights activists and parliamentarians, are represented on the Board.
- Some Functions of AWBI: Recognition of Animal Welfare Organisations: It oversees Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) by granting them recognition if they meet its guidelines.
- It also appoints key people to the positions of (Hon) Animal Welfare Officers, who serve as the key point of contact between the people, the government and law enforcement agencies.
- Financial assistance: It provides financial assistance to recognised AWOs, who submit applications to the Board.
- Categories of grants include Regular Grant, Cattle Rescue Grant, Provision of Shelter House for Animals, Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme, Ambulance for animals in distress and Natural Calamity grant.
- Animal welfare Laws and Rules: It suggests changes to laws and rules about animal welfare issues. It also offers guidance to organisations and officials such as police to help them interpret and apply the laws.
- Raising awareness: It issues publications to raise awareness of various animal welfare issues. Its education team gives talks on animal welfare subjects, and trains members of the community to be Certified Animal Welfare Educators