Bhopal: Former Member Secretary Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board and retired Indian Forest Service Officer Dr. Ramgopal Soni has responded to the news story titled: “At what cost India is encouraging the rising export of medicinal herbs?” published by Newsroom24x7 yesterday (21 July 2017) by stating that commercial utilisation and export of herbal medicines from India without registration and equitable sharing of benefit by companies involved in production and export of these products is blatant non-implementation and gross violation of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002.
According to Soni, this is not just a lapse but an offence abetted by government of India and National Biodiversity Authority.
Soni particularly pointed out that access to bio-resources by a foreign company without prior permission of NBA is an offence under Section 55.(2) of Biological Diversity Act of 2002. The punishment for this is imprisonment for 5 years and a fine of Rs. 1 million. The offence is also punishable under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for which the punishment is imprisonment 3 years to 7 years.
Fees or royalty on the herbal product or extract of herbal medicine totaling $ 600,000 @ of. 5% of turnover and $ 1.4 million @ 5% of sale value of bio-resources should have been recovered. But by not collecting this fees, the government has not only lost revenue but also abetted the offence. When companies involved in commercial utilisation of bio- resources do not register under the Biological Diversity Act, there is bound to be zero control over them and as a result of this, the nation is obviously compromising endlessly on the conservation front, Soni pointed out.
What is happening is in the knowledge of Government of India but nothing is being done to follow the law of the land and build the National Biodiversity Fund, Soni said adding the Government of India is losing about Rs 50,000 million every year from foreign companies and all the State Biodiversity Boards are also being deprived of, as per rough estimate, about Rs. 2500000 million. NBA should be asked what it is doing in this regard and there is another big question – why the State Biodivresity Boards (SBBs) are not enforcing the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act?
While the non-implementation of the Biological Diversity Act across the country remains a serious cause of concern, the Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board is the only exception since it took the lead and has set up the Madhya Pradesh Biodiversity Enforcement Cell. This Board has also become the first biodiversity board in the country to conduct Operation MPBio2017 under the aegis of MP Biodiversity Enforcement Cell. According to the Member Secretary of the Board, R Sreenivasa Murthy, the after-effect of this Operation was that instantly the traders have started rushing to the board for getting registered for access benefit sharing “ABS”.
Operation MP Bio 2017
On 9 May 2017, Ms. Kanchan Devi, Chief Conservator of Forest, Gwalior, had led a team, which also included Vikram Parihar, DFO Gwlior, and a case (4948/13) was registered against “Konark Herbal and Health Care” for transporting Salai gum-raisin ( a bio resource) for commercial use from Shivpur in Madhya Pradesh to Amb in Himachal Pradesh. Two persons Pushpendra Kushwah and Piyush Kushwah were also arrested in this connection from Shivpuri and produced in court.
A raid led by Sreenivasa Murthy, Member Secretary Madhya Pradesh Biodiversity Board was also conducted at the Konark Herbal and Health Care units at Kala Amb in Himachal Pradesh. This company is registered in Daman and has headquarters in Mumbai.
On May 24, the Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board, quoting Government of India notification of 9 September 2008, had issued instructions that all officers of the Board, who are not in the scientist category, and all forest officers of the State responsible for the administration of forest territory across the state were authorised to register complaints under Section 61.(a) of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002.