Disengaging with WII should be given rethink, MoEF&CC tells PMO: RTI

In a letter to the PMO, ministry agrees ‘in principle’ to disengage with IIFM

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Friday 04 December 2020

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has told the Prime Minister’s Office that the proposal for it to disengage with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) should be reconsidered, according to Right to Information (RTI) data.  

The MoEF&CC also wrote that it agreed ‘in principle’ to disengage with the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM).

The Ministry had October 28, 2020, sent the PMO its comments on the recommendations by the Department of Expenditure (DoE), Union Ministry of Finance, information obtained under RTI showed.

The DoE, in its report of September 30 on the rationalisation of autonomous bodies under the MoEF&CC, had recommended that the ministry ‘disengage’ from five autonomous institutions under it — including WII and IIFM.

The DoE recommended that the ministry disengage from both IIFM and WII within three years and reduce their funding by 25 per cent each year and turn the institutes into deemed universities.

The ministry wrote to the PMO that the timeline for disengagement from the IIFM should be five years, along with a one-time capital grant for future sustenance of the institute, the RTI showed. 

The ministry also said that a proposal for granting IIFM the status of ‘Institute of National Importance’ was under consideration. 

On WII, the ministry said the institute could best address its mandate of wildlife science and conservation by remaining within the ministry. It therefore proposed to the PMO that the disengagement should be reconsidered. 

It wrote that as the institute was engaged in carrying out fundamental research in the field of wildlife management, it would not be feasible to make it financially self-dependent.  

On October 15, the WII director had written to the ministry saying that the functioning of the institute would not be viable without the support of the MoEF&CC.

“The institute gets no revenue from course fees. These courses fill in the need of the nation to provide professional wildlife biologists and, therefore, are funded in limited number by the Union government,” Dhananjai Mohan had told the ministry. 

“We had asked all the directors of the institutes to send their comments and based on that we have given our response,” a MoEF&CC official told Down to Earth on the condition of anonymity.  

“Now, there will be discussions and debates on this issue. The final decision to disengage or not to disengage will be taken later,” the official added. 

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