Biological Diversity Act – 2002
India enacted Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for giving effect to the provisions of the CBD. Objective of this act is to regulate the access to genetic resources and protection of biodiversity. This act provides for establishment of statutory bodies such as National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards, National and State Biodiversity Funds, Biodiversity Management Committee etc.
National Biodiversity Authority
National Biodiversity Office has been established in Chennai as per provisions of the BDA-2002.
Structure of NBA
- One chairman, seven Ex-officio members and five non-official members; all to be appointed by central government.
- Chairman appointed by Central Government. He / she shall be an eminent person having adequate knowledge and experience in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and in matters relating to equitable sharing of benefits. The chairman can be removed by the Central government.
- Seven Ex-officio members are from the following fields:
- Agricultural Research and Education;
- Ocean Development;
- Agriculture and Cooperation;
- Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy;
- Science and Technology;
- Scientific and Industrial Research;
- Five non-official members will also be appointed. These will be persons with good domain knowledge in biodiversity.
Powers and Functions of NBA
- All foreign nationals require approval from NBA for obtaining Biological Resources from India.
- All Indian individuals/entities are required to seek NBA approval before transferring knowledge / research and material to foreigners.
- Prior approval of NBA before applying for any kind of IPR based on research conducted on biological material and or associated knowledge obtained from India.
State Biodiversity Board
The Biodiversity Act 2002 mandates each state to notify its State Biodiversity Board. We note here that there is no provision for a Biodiversity Board for a Union Territory because Union Territories have been placed under National Biodiversity Authority.
Functions of State Biodiversity Board include:
- To advise state governments on matters of biodiversity conservation
- Regulate commercial use of bio-resources in the state by Indians. This has two exceptions:
- Vaids and Hakims, who are practicing Indian medicinal system.
- Local People, who use the bioresources for local use.
National Biodiversity Fund
Whatever money National Biodiversity Authority receives as fees, fines etc. and whatever money it gets as grants etc. is kept in the National Biodiversity Fund. The money from this fund is used to benefit the claimers and promotion of conservation and socio-economic development in source areas.
State Biodiversity Fund
This fund has to be created at state level to credit any grants and loans made to the State Biodiversity Board by the National Biodiversity Authority and money from other sources. The money is used in the management and conservation of heritage sites; compensating or rehabilitating any section of the people economically affected when an area is declared Biodiversity Heritage Sites; and conservation and promotion of biological resources.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites
Under Section 37 of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA) the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify in the official gazette, areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).
“Biodiversity Heritage Sites” (BHS) are 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
- high endemism
- presence of rare and threatened species
- keystone species
- species of evolutionary significance
- wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties
- past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds and
- having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity, with or without a long history of human association with them
Biodiversity Management Committee
Biodiversity Management Committee is constituted by a local body within its area for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity including preservation of habitats, conservation of land races, folk varieties and cultivars, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals and microorganisms and chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity.
The National Biodiversity Authority and the State Biodiversity Boards need to consult the Biodiversity Management Committees while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources and knowledge within jurisdiction of the Biodiversity Management Committee.
The Biodiversity Management Committees may levy charges by way of collection fees from any person for accessing or collecting any biological resource for commercial purposes from areas falling within its territorial jurisdiction.
People’s Biodiversity Register
One of the most significant provisions in the Biological Diversity Act is that the Biodiversity Management Committees have been mandated to prepare People’s Biodiversity Register in consultation with local people. This register would have comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.
Other Notes on Biodiversity Act
- If a dispute arises between the National Biodiversity Authority and a State Biodiversity Board, the said Authority or the Board, as the case may be, may prefer an appeal to the Central Government within such time as may be prescribed.
- National Biodiversity Authority shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code.
- Violation of this act invites penalties viz. imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and where the damage caused exceeds tend lakh rupees such fine may commensurate with the damage caused, or with both