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Tata Trusts & Animal Welfare Board vie for obscure govt institute Maneka Gandhi founded

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The National Institute of Animal Welfare was founded in 1999, and has moved from ministry to ministry without producing much work of note.

New Delhi: A little-known government academic institute devoted to animal welfare, but hardly has any achievements to boast of, has suddenly become the object of attraction for two reputed organisations.

And the government is unable to take a call on who to hand over the institute that has been languishing for years when not being transferred from one ministry to another.

The institute in question: the National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW), founded in 1999 under the Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare when Maneka Gandhi was heading it.

And the two organisations vying for it: the Tata Trusts, which controls 66 per cent of the shares of Tata Sons; and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body under the environment ministry.

NIAW is based in a far-flung tehsil of Ballabhgarh in Haryana and its broad mandate includes improving animal welfare “through research, education and public outreach”.

However, given that the institute has failed to produce quality research and training in the field of animal welfare over the years, the environment ministry – under whose auspices the institute now operates – is now in a fix over whom to grant the right to run its academic activities.

The Tata Trusts – the philanthropic arm of the Tata Group – approached the ministry in January this year, requesting it to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the group in this regard – infuriating some in the AWBI. Tata Trusts showed interest in the institute at the request of a section in the government, it is learnt.

“It’s up to the ministry now to grant the rights to whoever it deems fit,” a source in the AWBI said, adding that it would be in the interest of animal welfare for the AWBI and NIAW to come together.

In fact, the AWBI office recently shifted to the NIAW campus in Ballabhgarh from Chennai where it was earlier located – which some said was an indication of the ministry’s intentions.

Neither the environment ministry nor Tata Trusts responded to ThePrint’s repeated queries.

History of NIAW

Formed with the intention of imparting training and education on diversified subjects in animal welfare, the NIAW has been transferred between ministries several times since its inception.

“It was formed when Maneka Gandhi was the Minister of Social Justice, and then moved to Culture when she became the minister, and then finally came under the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” an animal rights activist said on condition of anonymity.

While the NIAW presently falls under the purview of the Animal Welfare Division in the environment ministry, the institute continued to run on its own until 2016.

In 2016, however, an agreement was signed with Jawaharlal Nehru University to “jointly study design, develop and launch courses”. But that did not change the fortunes of the institute, sources said.

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  1. Correction – Tata Trusts is not the philanthropic arm of Tata Group. Tata Trusts is the collective name for a number of public charities created by the various members of Tata family with their personal wealth, which included many assets including the shares in Tata Group. It is not the philanthropic arm of Tata Group.

  2. I had been the District Khadi and Village Industries Officer at Faridabad, besides it I am chairman, People for Animals Haryana, closely watched the situation from acquiring agriculture land till today, whereas our dreams never comes true because a mind behind this establishment was to introduce Deem University but who bothers?
    NIAW had ambulance and hospital for animals in distress but till today not a single animal hospitalized and treated, lifted in ambulance as well.

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