Urgent need to document details of local communities: NGT

‘Zero progress in Arunachal’s peoples’ biodiversity register’

NEW DELHI, Aug 20: There is an urgent need to document details of local communities as India is one of the recognized mega-diverse countries, harbouring nearly 7-8 percent of the recorded species of the world, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was “zero” progress with regard to the peoples’ biodiversity registers (PBR) in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
On the subject of biodiversity management committees (BMC) there is “zero” progress in Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir, the tribunal noted.
The tribunal directed the chief secretaries of all the states where the defaults are continuing to consider giving warning to the panchayat secretaries for their past failures, documenting the same in their service record and give direction to the officers who are responsible for the job to ensure compliance with 100 percent constitution of BMCs and PBRs by 31 January, 2020, failing which coercive measures may have to be considered against them.
The chief secretaries may evolve a mechanism for ensuring a monthly meeting to be attended by the chairman and member secretaries of the state biodiversity boards, secretaries, and panchayat, starting from September 2019, it said.
“The states will be accountable for defaults and required to deposit a sum of Rs 10 lakhs per month each from 1 February, 2020, with the CPCB to be utilized for restoration of the environment. The states will be at liberty to recover the said amount from the persons committing the default,” the tribunal said.
It directed the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) and the National Biodiversity Authority to hold a review meeting every month from September 2019 till the task is completed.
“The MoEF may file a compliance report after collecting the necessary data from all the states on or before 15 February, 2020. The monitoring committee of the MoEF may oversee the quality of PBRs on sample basis by evolving a suitable mechanism,” it said in a recent order.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Pune resident Chandra Bhal Singh, seeking implementation of provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and the Biological Diversity Rules, 2004.
The Biological Diversity Act aims to preserve biological diversity in the country and provides mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge.
It was alleged that various states in the country have failed to give proper attention to the unique biodiversity prevalent, and they have also not undertaken their statutory obligations with “seriousness and have remained oblivious in discharging the statutory provision in the last couple of years.” (PTI)