Companies pay little heed to Biodiversity Act

By TheHindu on 30 Mar 2017

The Telangana State Biodiversity Board has signed its first two ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’ agreements this year, with two pesticide manufacturing companies. They will facilitate sharing of ‘Bacillus thuringiensis’ (Bt), a soil-inhabiting bacterium available in Kothakota village of Mahabubnagar, for manufacturing of pesticides.

The first agreement was signed in January, with Maa Bhagawati Biotech & Chemicals, Wardha, Maharashtra, and the second with Poabs Biotech Pvt. Ltd., at Pokuttoor, Thiruvallar, in April this year.

Four more applications are under process, of which one is from Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, for plant genetic material from Dharmapuri mandal of Karimnagar district. However, this, along with two more, will have to be processed by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), as they are from overseas companies.

As per the Biodiversity Act, the companies, organisations or individuals procuring biological resources from the jurisdictional limits of the TSBB should pay prescribed fee to the Biodiversity Management Committees legally constituted at the panchayat, municipality and corporation-level. Besides bio-resources, transfer of traditional and research-based knowledge too will come under the purview of the Board.

Though the Act came into being in 2002, and rules were framed in 2004, State-level guidelines were issued only last year. While there is large scale exploitation of biological resources from the State either for research or for commercial utilisation by various companies involved in seed production, pharmaceuticals, and Ayurvedic products, few among them are paying any heed to the Act.

As per official information, more than a thousand notices have been issued by the Board to the companies which are procuring bio-resources through commission agents. While the Board has penalising powers against the recalcitrant, the aim for now is to create awareness and work in harmony with the stakeholders involved, informed the member-secretary of TSBB C. Suvarna, at the one-day State-level media awareness workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the workshop, project manager, NBA, Ishwar Poojar, informed that violations are non-bailable and incur heavy penalties. So far, Gujarat Board with its huge industrial base leads the country with 47 agreements signed, and Rs.65 lakh fee deposited to the BMCs. AP and Telangana have signed two agreements each, and West Bengal one. onservation and sustainable use of bio-resources besides equitable sharing of benefits are the objectives of the Act, said the Director of Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research K.S. Varaprasad, who had been instrumental in facilitating the two agreements.