News: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has expressed concern over the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which is in the final stages of consultations in the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
About Biological Diversity Act 2002:
The act was enacted in 2002, it aims at the conservation of biological resources, managing its sustainable use and enabling fair and equitable sharing benefits arising out of the use and knowledge of biological resources with the local communities.
The Act prohibits the following activities without the prior approval from the National Biodiversity Authority:
Any person or organisation (either based in India or not) obtaining any biological resource occurring in India for its research or commercial utilisation.
The transfer of the results of any research relating to any biological resources occurring in, or obtained from, India.
The claim of any intellectual property rights on any invention based on the research made on the biological resources obtained from India.
The act envisaged a three-tier structure to regulate the access to biological resources:
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
The State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs)
The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) (at local level)
The Act provides these authorities with special funds and a separate budget in order to carry out any research project dealing with the biological natural resources of the country.
It shall supervise any use of biological resources and the sustainable use of them and shall take control over the financial investments and their return and dispose of those capitals as correct.
Under this act, the Central Government in consultation with the NBA:
Shall notify threatened species and prohibit or regulate their collection, rehabilitation and conservation
Designate institutions as repositories for different categories of biological resources
The act stipulates all offences under it as cognizable and non-bailable.
Exemptions from the Act
The Act excludes Indian biological resources that are normally traded as commodities.
Such exemption holds only so far the biological resources are used as commodities and for no other purpose.
The act also excludes traditional uses of Indian biological resources and associated knowledge and when they are used in collaborative research projects between Indian and foreign institutions with the approval of the central government.
Uses by cultivators and breeds, e.g. farmers, livestock keepers and bee keepers and traditional healers e.g.vaids and hakims are also exempted.
The National Biodiversity Authority
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 by the Central Government to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002).
It is a Statutory body that performs facilitative, regulatory and advisory functions for the Government of India on the issue of Conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.
The NBA has its Headquarters in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Structure of the NBA
The National Biodiversity Authority consists of the following members to be appointed by the central government, namely:
Three ex officio members, one representing the Ministry dealing with Tribal Affairs and two representing the Ministry dealing with Environment and Forests.
Seven ex-officio members to represent respectively the Ministries of the Central Government dealing with:
Agricultural Research and Education
Agriculture and Cooperation
Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy
Science and Technology
Scientific and Industrial Research;
Five non-official members to be appointed from amongst specialists and scientists having special knowledge and experience in the required matters.
Functions of the NBA
Creating an enabling environment, as appropriate, to promote conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Advising the central government, regulating activities and issuing guidelines for access to biological resources and for fair and equitable benefit sharing in accordance with the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Taking necessary measures to oppose the grant of intellectual property rights in any country outside India on any biological resource obtained from India or knowledge associated with such biological resources derived from India illegally.
Advising the State Governments in the selection of areas of biodiversity importance to be notified as heritage sites and suggest measures for their management.
State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs)
The SBBs are established by the State Governments in accordance with Section 22 of the Act.
Structure: The State Biodiversity Board consists of the following members:
Not more than five ex officio members to represent the concerned Departments of the State Government
Not more than five members from amongst experts in matters relating to conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.
All the members of the SBB are appointed by the respective State Governments.
Functions of SBBs
Advise the State Government, subject to any guidelines issued by the Central Government, on matters relating to the conservation, sustainable use or sharing equitable benefits.
Regulate by granting approvals or otherwise requests for commercial utilisation or bio-survey and bio-utilisation of any biological resource by people.
There are no State Biodiversity Boards constituted for Union territories.