Winter session: Biological diversity bill tabled amid Opposition protest

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Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav introduced the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 amid din created by the Opposition over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence issue

New Delhi A bill which seeks to reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging cultivation of such plants and facilitating fast-tracking of research, patent application process and transfer of research results was introduced in Parliament on Thursday.

Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav introduced the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 amid din created by the Opposition over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence issue.

The bill was drafted following concerns by traditional Indian medicine practitioners, seed sector, and industry and research sector over compliance burden in the Biological Diversity Act 2002, which was enacted for conservation of biological diversity and ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources with indigenous and local communities.

According to the bill, these sectors urged the Centre to “reduce compliance burden in order to encourage a conducive environment for collaborative research and investments, simplify patent application process, widen the scope of levying access and benefit sharing with local communities and for further conservation of biological resources”.

The bill proposes to give exemption to registered AYUSH medical practitioners and people accessing codified traditional knowledge, among others, from giving prior intimation to state biodiversity boards for accessing biological resources for certain purposes, the statement of objects and reasons of the bill said.

“The amendment seems to be done with the sole intention of providing benefit to the AYUSH Industry. The main focus of the bill is to facilitate the trade in biodiversity as opposed to conservation, protection of biodiversity and knowledge of the local communities. The amendments are completely contrary to the aim and objective of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002,” environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta said.

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