Know your law

Published: Monday 15 December 2008

Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group in Delhi and international non-profit grain recently came up with a brochure, which highlights redressal mechanisms as well as biases and lacunae in the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

The brochure, Offences, Disputes and Remedies under India's Biodiversity Law, explains how can violations be brought to book, and by whom. "Complaints only by central government or a benefit claimer can be brought to a court of law," it reads. The act defines benefit claimer as the "conservers of biological resources...practices associated with such use and application". The catch is : if someone is not a benefit claimer directly, he is in no position to challenge the offence.

The brochure highlights what is illegal under the law along with the "who, what and how" of settling disputes.

The biodiversity act was meant to lay down a framework for biological resources and related traditional knowledge and includes in its purview check on research, commercial use and patent issues. "Even after six years of existence, it is the least talked about conservation act. Decision making (on permission to access biological resources for instance) is highly centralized and challenging a decision is tedious," said Kanchi Kohli of Kalpavriksh.

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