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December 13, 2017

Selection of NBA Chairman: The exercise to fill the post remains under a cloud


Newsroom24x7 Exclusive

The absence of a dedicated Head at National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) speaks volumes of the thrust, focus and priority that is being given to the field of biodiversity conservation by Government of India.

NBANew Delhi: The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) remains headless for the last one-and-half year as the top seat remains conspicuously unoccupied. In the absence of a full-time Chairman, the affairs of NBA are being looked after by Hem Pande, a 1982 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer and Additional Secretary, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. His working headquarter is in Delhi and he has also been given the additional charge of acting Chairman at NBA, which in itself is a full time separate job.

The absence of a dedicated Head at NBA speaks volumes of the thrust, focus and priority that is being given to the field of biodiversity conservation by Government of India.

It is mandatory requirement that the chairman of NBA should have adequate knowledge and experience of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of bio-resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of bio resources as per Section 8 of Biological Diversity Act (BDA).

National Biodiversity Authority is the premier authority in India for biodiversity conservation.

Two Successive advertisements or the call for applications to fill the post of Chairman NBA have given weightage to the mandatory requirement vis-a-vis experience in terms of benefit sharing and sustainable use of bio resources. But at the same time there is also the provision for relaxing the qualification. This sounds contrary to the law of the land and can be declared null and void if challenged in court.

Apparently there is a conspiracy to accommodate a bureaucrat (a retiring government of India Secretary) when the process to fill the post of chairman of NBA is initiated. This has happened for the second time in a row. This is explicit from the fact that the call for applications to fill the NBA chief’s post mentioned that the candidate should be well versed with current developments related to access and benefit sharing under various relevant international fora. Candidates were also supposed to have experience of working with different stakeholders in biodiversity and experience in participation in international negotiations. Obviously only officers at Secretary or Additional Secretary level in Government of India have the experience of participating in international negotiations.

After the recruitment process was abandoned last year at the intervention from the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) after on the grounds of conflict of interest as the then retiring Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) was himself in the race for the NBA chairman’s post.

This time, the name of a chief secretary who is just about to retire is in the panel forwarded to the PMO by the MoEF for the top NBA post. He does not meet the mandatory educational requirement. He is a BE and has a PG diploma whereas a Post Graduate degree is an essential prerequisite for this post.

It is learnt that the selection process is being delayed to coincide with the superannuation of “the Chief Secretary” this July end.


(An investigative report by newsroom24x7.com)

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