Urgent need to document details of local communities: NGT

There is an urgent need to document details of local communities as India is one of the recognised mega-diverse countries, harbouring nearly 7-8 per cent of the recorded species of the world, the National Green Tribunal has said.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was ‘zero’ progress with regard to the Peoples’ Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

On the subject of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) there is ‘zero’ progress in Bihar and Jammu and 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 per cent constitution of BMCs and PBRs by January 31, 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 State Biodiversity Boards, secretaries, panchayat, starting from September, 2019, it said.

“The states will be accountable for defaults and required to deposit a sum of Rs 10 lakh per month each from February 1, 2020 with the CPCB to be utilised 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 and Forests 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 February 15, 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, 2002 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”.

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