Although it only takes up 2.4% of the Earth's total land area, India is
considered one of the 17 mega-biodiverse nations. The availability of a wide
diversity of genetic, plant and animal species, and other natural resources, all
of which have been and are being exploited for economic advantage, may be partly
responsible for this contribution. Human overexploitation of resources has
accelerated to the point that it has contributed to the extinction of several
species and the depletion of valuable genetic diversity.
Years of unchecked urbanization, rapid industry, and other human activity have
left the ecosystem in poor condition. As a result of this ecological decline, a
legislation was enacted in India with the express purpose of ensuring the
protection and preservation of the country's rich array of flora and fauna.
Implementation of Biological Diversity Act of 2002:
Indian lawmakers passed the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (the Act) in response
to the environmental damage caused by humans and to fulfill their obligations
under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992. The Act's
stated goal is to "conserve biological resources, take appropriate action for
mitigation of risks, and effectively address the issues concerning equitable
sharing of benefits pertaining to utilization of biological resources."
The Act establishes a three-tiered authority framework consisting of the
National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs), and
the Biodiversity Management Committees to ensure sustainable use of resources
while promoting equitable usage and benefits (BMC). Each of these agencies plays
a unique role in enforcing rules and regulations that promote preservation,
responsible usage, and equitable distribution of benefits.
Before the Biodiversity Act of 2002
According to Article 51 of the Indian Constitution, the country must abide by
all international accords and treaties. India signed the Convention on
Biological Diversity in May 1994, hence the country had to comply with its
terms. In the case of T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Union of India
the country's judicial system reaffirmed India's commitment to its international
duties to safeguard biodiversity.
The highest court in the land pointed out that it is the responsibility of the
government to interpret domestic law in light of international treaties and
standards. The highest court also ruled that protecting forest habitats and
species is a matter of constitutional obligation. As part of its international
commitments, the United States passed the Biological Diversity Act in 2002 and
the Rule in 2004.
Post the Biological Resources Conservation Act of 2002
There has been a sea change in the last decade in terms of publicly and legally
articulating the negative impact of human activities on biological variety. The
National Green Tribunal was set up as a specialized entity to provide an
efficient and effective first instance venue for environmental jurisprudence in
the nation. Planning ahead for biodiversity concerns via policy interventions
and financial commitments is seen as a key source for reducing unfavorable
environmental effects in the future.
As to the United Nations Environment Programme, India is amongst the top
achievers when it comes to efficiently meeting the goals of the Convention on
Biological Diversity. Biodiversity Management Committees are required by law to
compile People's Biodiversity Registers after consulting with residents. It is
crucial to recognise that the Registers are more than just records; they provide
information that can be used to assess the situation on the ground and shape
policies for the conservation and preservation of biodiversity. In 2021, the
Haryana State Biodiversity Board established over 6,000 committees to collect
and record local expertise on the topic of biological resources and
The Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing-House designed to allow for
implementation of the Nagoya Protocol was approved by India in 2012, and since
then it has served as a platform for the efficient sharing of data relating to
the country's genetic resources. In 2013, the Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity
Board mandated that businesses make money off of the state's bio-resources and
revealed the positive outcomes that would follow. The decree also detailed the
approvals that businesses need in order to take use of biological resources for
The National Biodiversity Authority (part of the Ministry of Environment,
Forest, and Climate Change) published the Guidelines on Access to Biological
Resources and Associated Knowledge and Equitable Sharing of Benefits
Regulations, 2019 through a notification3 released in 2019. It seems from the
Regulations that the State Biodiversity Board is obligated to comply with the
regulations thereunder, and it also imposes specific duties on researchers and
scientists in regards to discoveries made in India but stored in a repository
outside of the country.
And to help facilitate United Nations agreement on issues related to biological
diversity and the plan of action to effectively preserve and protect nature and
its resources, the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity has
released a new structure called the Global Framework for Managing Nature Through
20304. The purpose of this new paradigm is to encourage more immediate and
transformational action by governments and all of society, especially indigenous
people and local communities, to reduce threats to biodiversity.
Biological diversity (amendment) bill, 2021
Concerns have been raised about the potential decriminalization of some elements
in the Amendment Bill when it was first proposed. The Amendment Bill proposes to
decriminalize violations of substantive provisions of the legislation, and it
also provides for the creation of two separate authorities, namely, Biodiversity
Authorities at both the Central and State levels, which were previously divided
into the National Biodiversity Authority and the State Biodiversity Authorities
under the Biodiversity Act, 2002. In cases where any of the Act's stipulations
were broken, these bodies might file formal complaints (FIR) and thereafter
initiate magisterial investigations.
However, the Amendment Bill suggests revoking the National Biodiversity
Authority to initiate a FIR against a violating party. In addition, the proposed
Bill calls for the appointment of an inquiry officer, who, after conducting an
investigation, may fine repeat offenders up to Rs. 1 million.
Arguments have been made that the objective for conservation of biological
resources has taken a second seat to the protection of intellectual property and
the promotion of innovation, both of which are emphasized in the Amendment Bill.
Biological resource access for specific AYUSH objectives without prior
authorisation from State biodiversity boards is also a cause for worry.
Foreign investment in biodiversity research, however, will be permitted only
with the prior consent of the National Biodiversity Authority and must come from
an Indian firm engaged in biodiversity research. Considering the suggested
provisions, which are open to additional revision based on its current state of
rest. The long-term goal, however, is to have a more refined set of laws in
place that consciously strikes a balance while still protecting the interests of
all parties involved in India's biodiversity policy.
The Convention on Biological Diversity
The CBD encompasses several tiers of biodiversity, including ecosystems,
species, and genetic resources, and is connected to many fields outside of
academia. The Convention of Parties (COP) is the CBD's governing body, and it is
in charge of monitoring progress, defining objectives, and creating strong
The 13th Meeting of the COP was held in Gujarat, India in February 2020, with
the topic of migratory species of wild animals. India was deemed to have
committed to a number of agreements and choices about risks to the migratory
species and efficient strategies to assist in protecting their habitat around
the world after the Conference concluded.
Indian Laws on Biodiversity
Forest Conservation Act 1980:
The goal of the law is to reduce the pace of deforestation and preserve forest
areas. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change published a
consultation document in October 2021 recommending changes to the Act aimed at
making it simpler for businesses to comply with its requirements.
Fisheries Act 1897:
The Act has strict protections against the killing of fish with explosives,
water poisoning, and other similar methods.
Mining and Mineral Development Regulation Act 1957:
The Mining and Mineral Development Regulation Act of 1957 came into being with
the main goal of controlling the mining industry. It lays forth the steps and
requirements for obtaining a mining or commercial exploration license in India.
Wildlife Protection Act 1972:
The major goal of the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1972 is to prevent the
hunting of wild animals or endangered species, but it also covers the protection
of some plants by making it illegal to uproot or cut them.
Major Biodiversity Projects in India
It was launched in 1992 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the
Government of India to aid individual states in their wildlife management of
free-ranging Asian elephants. The goal of the effort is to guarantee the
long-term survival of elephants in their natural environments by protecting
them, their habitats, and their migratory routes. Funding research into elephant
ecology and management, increasing conservation awareness among locals, and
bettering veterinary treatment for captive elephants are some of Project
Elephant's other goals.
Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation:
This project is crucial to NMCG's goal of Ganga Rejuvenation since it will
restore the river's natural balance. Aquatic biota are excellent indicators of
river health and should be at the focus of every sustainable river restoration
operation. For the purpose of conservation planning and information
dissemination, the project also seeks to establish a Ganga Aqualife Conservation
Monitoring Centre at WII DehraDun.
Shiwalik Biodiversity Park:
At 50 hectares in size, SBP is the largest park in the state dedicated to
protecting the state's natural habitats and biodiversity. Over the course of the
next five years, the project's three stages will be built. It will include more
than thirty-three different conservation ideas.
Beginning in 2021, India has been working on completing a triennial census of
dolphin populations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the initiative in
2020, and a final report is likely to be released in June or July 2022.
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat:
The goal is to improve energy efficiency and facilitate the use of renewable
resources in urban areas.
In order to preserve human survival now and in the future, biodiversity
conservation and preservation measures must be put in place. Protecting and
maintaining Earth's life-sustaining infrastructure requires a concerted and
cooperative effort now that will pay dividends in the years to come. With our
own existence dependent on the continued presence of nature, biological variety
is of great social and cultural importance. Initiatives that are both
comprehensive and focused on promoting sustainable lifestyles are quite likely
to have a significant impact on environmental conservation.