The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit a report, on the constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees at the local level in every state, within three months. A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also asked the states who have not constituted the committees, to file an affidavit stating the reason for the delay. “Let further steps be taken and completed within three months and a further report filed by the MoEF by e-mail. The officer in-charge, dealing with the subject, may remain present in person with the compliance report on the next date,” the bench said.
During the hearing, a monitoring committee formed by the Tribunal informed it that as against 2,52,709 panchayats where Biodiversity Management Committees were to be constituted, a total of 1,44,371 Biodiversity Management Committees have been formed, which shows a gap of more than one lakh. With respect to People Biodiversity Registers, 6,834 have been documented so far and another 1,814 are in progress, it noted.
The Tribunal, on August 8, 2018, had directed a monitoring committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and National Biodiversity Authority, to furnish a report. The Tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Pune resident Chandra Bhal Singh, seeking implementation of the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, aims to preserve biological diversity in India and provides mechanisms for equitable sharing of benefits, arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge.
“The blatant non-compliance of the provisions of the said Act and Rules, has frustrated the whole efforts of enacting such a legislation owing to the international obligation of India while being a signatory to the Rio Declaration and Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992,” the plea said. It was alleged that various states in the country had failed to give proper attention to the unique biodiversity prevalent in India and they had also not undertaken their statutory obligations with ‘seriousness and have remained oblivious in discharging the statutory provision in the last couple of years’.
Seeking constitution of the Biodiversity Management Committees at the local level in every state, under Section 41 of the Biological Biodiversity Act 2002, the plea claimed that several State Biodiversity Boards had not constituted the Biodiversity Management Committees at the local level ‘for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity’. It further said the Peoples Biodiversity Register, a document which records the diversity of flora and fauna, had not been prepared and maintained by the Biodiversity Management Committee by some of the states.