NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel has invited suggestions from all stakeholders regarding the contentious Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021.The panel headed by BJP member Sanjay Jaiswal on Sunday issued a communique seeking suggestions from the general public, experts, and other stakeholders within 15 days. The comments will become part of the minutes of the Panel’s deliberations.
The step was taken after the bill was referred to a joint committee of Parliament following objections by experts and a section of the opposition to some provisions of the crucial legislation. The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 16. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had registered a strong protest and wanted the legislation to be referred to the department-related standing on environment, forests and science and technology instead of a select committee. He made his displeasure known to Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla.
Experts also felt that the legislation warranted comprehensive public scrutiny before becoming a law. The main criticism is that the bill has been brought to benefit only the Ayush industry. The legislation seeks to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, allowing traditional medical practitioners to access medicinal plants for research without informing the biodiversity boards to fast-track getting patents on such studies and legalising certain practices.
The Biological Diversity Act 2002 fulfilled India’s obligation under Convention on Biological Diversity 1992, ratified in 1994. A three-tier structure of National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards and Biodiversity Management Committees is in place to protect the biological resources.