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People’s Expectations from State Biodiversity Board not fulfilled after 17 years of enactment of National Biodiversity Act

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National Biodiversity Act
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Dr RN Pati

Raipur, Aug 24

The National Biodiversity Act, 2002 has created a platform for bringing synergy between biotechnology and information science for sustainable management of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity. As a follow up measure, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 at Chennai along with the establishment of Chhattisgarh Biodiversity Board at Raipur.

People’s Biodiversity Register adopted from the model of Professor Madhav Gadgel was entrusted to be documented for every Gram Sabha, Panchayat, Municipalities in consultation with local people after establishment of Biodiversity Management Committee in all local bodies. People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) is an important document prepared by community covering comprehensive information on biological resources, medicinal plants, indigenous knowledge associated with use of different plants and other species.

This is a vital instrument that empowers local bodies in conservation related decision making and streamlining planning process for biodiversity conservation. It is a tool that empowers community to claim ownership over bio-resources and effectively participate in conservation of biodiversity. The People’s Biodiversity Register covers detail information on ecosystem diversity, species and genetic diversity, wild flora and fauna diversity, diversity of aquatic flora and fauna, culture biodiversity interface and developing viable action plan for biodiversity conservation and enhancement.

The State Biodiversity Board is responsible for involving community to develop People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) at Gram Sabha, Panchayat, Muncipality, Municipal Corporation BMC level under supervision of Biodiversity Management Committee.
Chhattisgarh State Medicinal Plants Board had initiated the documentation of People’s Biodiversity Register involving local community in 27 villages as a model in the year 2009-2010.
Unfortunately State Biodiversity Board, Chhattisgarh did not take any further initiative to develop and document People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) except designing peoples biodiversity register guidelines and formation of some biodiversity committees which are yet to be finalized and made functional.

The biodiversity and natural resources of this pioneer herbal State of India are on rapid erosion due to growing industrialization, mining, real estate projects and other deforestation activities. At such critical situation, the documentation of People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) and Biodiversity Indexing in urban as well as rural areas of state will not only create people’s awareness on loss of bio-wealth but also create robust community participation in biodiversity conservation and safeguarding rich heritage of herbal State.
The State Biodiversity Board needs to hire third party agency with expertise to train and strengthen the Biodiversity Committee formed and form Biodiversity Management Committee and organize villagers with orientation for participatory documentation of People’s Biodiversity Register in all districts of the State. Only developing guidelines for People’s Biodiversity Register in not enough. The Board must follow footsteps and achievements of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Boards.
The eminent environmentalists, social activists and development actors of state raise their concern over non utilization of district level and state level biodiversity fund allocated for years together in articulating the agenda of Board as well as National Biodiversity Act. The Board needs to involve University, Civil Societies and Corporate Houses in sensitizing students and women by hosting Children Biodiversity Congress and Women Biodiversity Congress in Raipur. The Real estate companies have acquired huge land for construction and damaged the rich biodiversity of these areas.
It is a serious concern. The State Biodiversity Board, Chhattisgarh needs to take serious concern on these issues and charge biodiversity cess from these companies damaging biodiversity for house construction.

(Author is a Biodiversity Scientist, Mekelle University. Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.)

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