Parliament on Tuesday passed the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which entails provisions for sharing benefits of biodiversity commerce with locals and also decriminalises biodiversity offences.
The bill, which amends the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, was passed in Rajya Sabha with a voice vote. The Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on July 25.
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav said the bill is aimed at providing benefits to tribal and local communities by simplifying processes. "We also want to promote Ayush and Ayurved and for that purpose we brought this amendment," he said.
"With the legislation the government is simplifying the compliance burden while encouraging a conducive environment for research and investment," Yadav said.
The bill would also help in simplifying the patent application process, he added.
"The main objective is to widen the scope of access benefit sharing with local communities, which is the main thing and the conservation of the biological resources," Yadav said.
The amendment aims at encouraging cultivation of medicinal plants and removing compliance burden on Indian companies, he said.
"Our objective is also to decriminalise the offences... to reduce the fear among the stakeholders for effective compliance," Yadav said.
The bill was introduced in Parliament on December 16, 2021. It was later moved to a joint committee on December 20, 2021, due to concerns that the amendments favoured industry and contradicted the spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The committee submitted its report in Parliament on August 2 last year with the recommendation that the bill may be passed after the inclusion of their recommendations.
Sulata Deo (BJD), Bhubaneswar Kalita (BJP), Ayodhya Rami Reddy Alla (YSRCP), GK Vasan TMC (M), Ramji (BSP), Brijlal (BJP) and V Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP) participated in the discussion on the bill.
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