Q1)How many cases have been decided till date under the Biodiversity Act?
A) Some sections of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 came into force from the year 2003, however the entire Act came into force only on 1st July 2004. In spite of the fact that the Act came into operation many years ago, it is only in the past few years that cases are being initiated in the courts under the Act. For an exact count of the number of cases filed under the Biological Diversity Act one can get in touch with the the National Biodiversity Authority ( http://nbaindia.org/content/23/65/1/contact.html) or the concerned State Biodiversity Board ( http://nbaindia.org/link/241/34/1/SBBs.html). An alternative could be to file an RTI application for the same.
Q2) How is the fee and other payment collected by the State and National Diversity Board utilized? Is it used for the conservation of the biological resources?
A) The fees collected by the authorities for e.g. fees of a particular Form are utilized by the respective authorities as administrative expenses for processing of applications. On the other hand Regulation 15 of the Guidelines on Access to Biological Resources and Associated Knowledge and Benefits Sharing Regulations, 2014 states that the amount collected under the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is divided into two parts. 5% of the ABS amount goes to the NBA or the SBB as the case may be while 95% of the ABS amount is passed on to the benefit claimers i.e. the individual or group of people or organisation or community which shared the knowledge or who provided the biological resource.
If the benefit claimers cannot be identified then the ABS is deposited with the concerned BMC and that money is used to support conservation and sustainable use of biological resources and to support the livelihoods of the local community from where the biological resource was accessed.
Q3) What about those individuals who were holding lands rich in terms of biological resources after the Act came into force? Whether they are declared as government property after the Act?
A) The Act does not expressly provide for any acquisition of land. However it does allow the State Government to notify areas rich in biodiversity as biodiversity heritage sites under Section 37.
Q4) Is there any list of the resources which are declared under the Act as reserved and requires prior approval before the access and use?
A) The Act covers all activities based on biological resources unless they have been exempted by definition e.g the definition of commercial utilisation as given in Section 2(f) exempts certain activities such as conventional breeding or traditional practices in use in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry etc. Also S. 40 exempts certain biological resources when they are traded as commodities. It is difficult to list out all species as they would run into millions and then biological resources are not just limited to species as a whole but it also includes their parts, genetic material and by products as well, hence the BD Act does not provide a list of biological resources for which prior approval needs to be taken because it covers all biological resources unless exempte
Q5) If an Indian Ph. D scholar wishes to do research on wild fruits in Himalayas does he/ she need to apply to the NBA?
A) Indian Citizens wanting to do academic research on biological resources are exempted to the point that their research is purely academic in nature. However if the researcher wants to make commercial benefits out of his research then he/she must apply to the NBA or SBB depending upon what commercial activity he wishes to do. For e.g. the Indian researcher would have to apply to the NBA for approval before applying for an intellectual property based on a biological resource from India or knowledge associated to it. However if the Indian Ph.D scholar wishes only to sell products based on his research then he need not apply to the NBA rather he must apply to the State Biodiversity Board from whose jurisdiction he acquires the biological resources
Q6) If I see somebody committing an act which is prohibited by the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, what should I do?
A) Cognizance of an offence under the BD Act can only be made on the basis of a complaint. Also the complainant must be one of the persons mentioned under Section 61 of the BD Act. The persons authorised under the Act to file a complaint are the Central Government or any authority or officer authorised by that Government. Additionally any person who is a benefit claimer under the BD Act i.e. a person, who would be entitled to receive benefits if the alleged activity had been done after requisite approvals, may also file a complaint after giving a notice of minimum 30 days, of his intention to file the complaint to the Central Government or authorised officer.
Therefore if you see a person indulging in any activity which is prohibited under the Act then you should inform the State Biodiversity Board of the incident.