Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 Gets Green Light in Lok Sabha

Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021- Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 26 July 2023 at 00:36 IST

The Lok Sabha successfully passed the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, a significant step towards amending the existing Biological Diversity Act of 2002.

The bill, which had been introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 16, 2021, underwent thorough examination by a Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Sanjay Jaiswal before receiving approval.

The primary objective of the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, is to streamline compliance requirements for domestic companies. One of the key provisions proposes the exemption of users of codified traditional knowledge and AYUSH practitioners from the obligation of sharing benefits with local communities.

Additionally, the bill aims to exclude research and bio-survey activities from the scope of benefit-sharing requirements. Instead, benefit sharing will be determined based on the terms agreed upon between the user and the local management committee, which will be represented by the National Authority.

Notably, the bill takes a significant step in the decriminalization of all offenses under the Act, replacing criminal penalties with a range of monetary fines. Moreover, the bill empowers government officials to conduct inquiries and determine the appropriate penalties.

However, concerns have been raised regarding certain aspects of the bill. One such concern revolves around the discretion given to government officials to determine penalties, with questions raised about whether such authority is appropriate.

Another area of concern pertains to the term “codified traditional knowledge,” which remains undefined in the bill. As a result, there are fears that a broad interpretation of this term might lead to the exemption of all local traditional knowledge from benefit-sharing requirements.

Furthermore, critics have flagged the removal of the direct involvement of local communities in determining benefit-sharing provisions, which might have implications for the equitable distribution of benefits.

While the passage of the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, marks a significant milestone, it also highlights the need for careful consideration of certain provisions to ensure that the conservation and sharing of biological resources align with the interests of all stakeholders involved.

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