• Environmental crimes i.e. the crimes manipulating environment inter-alia involves air pollution, water pollution, and the illegal transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, which causes most serious threat to public health and natural resources. One of such serious crimes is ‘poaching’ i.e. illegal wildlife trade.
• While data is easily available on pollution levels and emissions, statistics on crimes against the environment are harder to come by. So, in 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) compiled data on environment-related offences.
• Offences against the environment are registered under the following five laws
a) Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (as amended in 1988)
b) Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
c) Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986
d) Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
e) Forest Act, 1927
• Wildlife and forest crime has a serious role in threat finance to organized crime, and non-state armed groups including terrorist groups.
• International enforcement collaboration, such as the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which includes CITES, UNODC, INTERPOL, the World Bank and WCO, together with increased collaboration amongst agencies, such as with UNEP, and with countries, has created a more effective structure to provide support to countries in the fields of policing, customs, prosecution and the judiciary. These initiatives have revealed important and significant early results.
• However, the scale and coordination of the efforts must be substantially increased and a widened effort implemented. They must be combined with efforts on good governance, management and consumer awareness to ensure a long-term demand reduction.
• In India Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been formed in 2007, by amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, a special Act to protect the wildlife in the country. The bureau would complement the efforts of the state governments, primary enforcers of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and other enforcement agencies of the country.
• It is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals; to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank; co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act; assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control; capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes; and advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws. It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.