New Delhi: Forestry, wildlife and biodiversity expert Ramgopal Soni has written a letter to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave pointing out that there has been annual loss of revenue amounting to more than Rs. 1000 crores due to non-implementation of Biological Diversity Act 2002 by the National Biodiversity Authority (N.B.A.). Losses get further compounded due to loack of action by State Biodiversity Boards on this count.
Dr. Soni was Member Secretary M.P. State Biodiversity Board (2012-2014) and during his tenure he had fought for this issue by registering cases against industries utilizing bio-resources. He had also achieved success in this direction as the National Green Tribunal issued orders to underscore the power of State Biodiversity Boards to pass an order of Benefit sharing. As a result, N.B.A. was forced to formulate Access and Benefit Sharing guidelines that had not been issued right since 2004.
Dr. Soni has written in his letter to the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change that the present chairman of N.B.A. does not possess the knowledge and experience in matters relating to equitable sharing of benefits, she is an expert in matters relating to fisheries where as vast biodiversity relates mostly to forest (75%) and agriculture.
Besides, it has been pointed out that the mandatory requirement for the post of chairman is knowledge and experience of Access and Benefit sharing.
Sec.8 of Biological Diversity Act 20022002 reads:
A Chairperson, who 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, to be appointed by the Central Government;
Because of this they (N.B.A.) do not know how to implement access and benefit sharing.
Dr. Soni has explained access and benefit sharing by stating: “every industry dealing with bio-resource has to pay 0.1% to 0.5% of their annual turnover. This will be collected by NBA if they are multinational or industries with sizeable foreign investment and by State biodiversity boards if they are Indian industries.
Every year there is loss of not less than Rs. 1000 crores rupees by NBA due to non collection of this revenue from foreign companies. The act has been rectified by our country and passed by world forum of C.B.D. in Nogoya known as Nogoya protocol in 2014, though we could have enforced it since 2004 as per our law of Land, Dr. Soni has pointed out.
NBA did not collect any amount and they are sitting idle only granting patent which is only a small part of their work.
The amount that has not been collected by NBA is huge. Had it been collected, this money could have been utilized for conservation of biodiversity.
They have a budget of Rs. 25-50 crores only but this is sufficient for managing their overheads and travels abroad and in India. Hence they are least bothered about Biodiversity conservation, argues Dr. Soni in his letter.
According to Dr. Soni, if we calculate the loss by all state biodiversity boards together due to non-implementation of Biological Diversity Act, it would touch the staggering figure of Rs. 25000 crores every year.
All industries using bio-resources, including bear and whiskey manufacturers, and industries producing herbal medicines, sugar, besides coal producers, State forest department,forest corporations, fisheries, cotton-based industries, agro-based and food processing industries come under the ambit of the Biological Diversity Act 2002, Dr. Soni has emphaised.
In the meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal has taken up the matter of non-implementation of Biological Diversity Act and issued notices to M o e f and National Biodiversity Authority for non collection of access and benefit sharing from multinationals operating in India for commercial utilization of bio-resources.