The Biodiversity act 2002
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 was born out of India’s attempt to realize the objectives enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992 which recognizes the sovereign rights of states to use their own Biological Resources.
Biodiversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources and the ecological complexes of which they are part and includes diversity within species or between species and of ecosystems.
The biological resources means plants, animals, and micro-organisms or parts thereof, their genetic material and by-products (excluding value-added products) with actual or potential use or value, but does not include human genetic material.
The 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.
Salient Features of the Act:
The Act prohibits the following activities without the prior approval from the National Biodiversity Authority:
Any person or organization (either based in India or not) obtaining any biological resource occurring in India for its research or commercial utilization.
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 the 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.
Any grievances related to the determination of benefit sharing or order of the National Biodiversity Authority or a State Biodiversity Board under this Act shall be taken to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The other laws that NGT deals with, include:
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
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 beekeepers and traditional healers e.g. voids and hakims are also exempted.
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
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.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS):
Under Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify the areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.
The Biodiversity Heritage Sites are the well-defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal, and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components:
Richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories
Presence of rare and threatened species
Species of evolutionary significance
Wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties
Past preeminence of biological components represented by fossil beds
Having significant cultural, ethical, or aesthetic values; important for the maintenance of cultural diversity (with or without a long history of human association with them)