Context: A recommendation by the Finance Ministry to divest the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) of its status as an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has triggered anxiety among the scientists at the organization.

Recommendations made by the Finance Ministry

  • The Finance Ministry move follows a review by its Expenditure Department of 194 autonomous bodies across 18 Ministries. 
    • Out of them, 109 bodies must be merged into 26, and the government must “disengage” from 23, one of which is the WII.
  • Along with the WII, other autonomous bodies that have been recommended to be disengaged are the 
    • Indian Institute of Forest Management, and
    • Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute.
  • Other Environment Ministry organizations, such as the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History will be subsumed within the activities of the Environment Ministry. 
  • On the other hand, organizations such as the Society of Integrated Coastal Management and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, will be merged.
  • It also recommended that the following organisations would continue to function under and with the financial support of MoEF
    • Indian Council for Forest and Research Education, 
    • GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development 
    • Statutory bodies such as
      • Central Pollution Control Board, 
      • Central Zoo Authority (CZA), 
      • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), 
      • National Biodiversity Authority 

About Wildlife Institute of India

  • Established in 1982, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training programs, academic courses, and advisory in wildlife research and management. 
  • It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • The Institute is actively engaged in research across the breadth of the country on biodiversity-related issues.
  • Responsibility: The major responsibility of this Institute is to provide advice to MoEF based on scientific information on policy and management of the country’s Wildlife Resources
  • Funds
    • Grants in aid received by WII from the government is primarily used for staff salary and infrastructure development and maintenance. 
    • The rest of the funds are raised through research projects from different government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology.

Image Source: TH