India is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was brought into effect on 29th December, 1993. In order to achieve the object of the Convention on Biological Diversity, India enacted the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA) and implemented rules on benefit sharing under the Biological Diversity Rules, 2004. The provisions of the Act were implemented by an autonomous body called National Biodiversity Authority that regulates and issues guidelines for access to biological resources for fair and equitable benefit sharing.
Sections 3,4, and 6 of BDA requires a person / entity to obtain prior approval or permission from NBA to access biological resources for various activities. Industry and research institutions at large are not aware of such requirements for accessing the biological material of India for research or commercial purpose. This led to non-compliance of the requirements under Section 3 and /or Section 6 by such persons/entities under BDA.
It was brought to the notice of the Central Government that the non-compliance of the requirements under BDA was due to lack of awareness, as the persons/entities were desirous to comply with the requirement of the BDA. Subsequently, an Office Memorandum was issued by the Central Government on September 10, 2018 directing NBA to hear all those cases (within a window period of 100 days from the date of the Memorandum) in which the approval was required to be obtained, but was not obtained by the persons/entities, to decide those cases on merit and to ensure that only those cases are granted approval for future activities, which would have otherwise been approved in the normal course. The NBA was also directed to continue spreading awareness about the provisions of the Act to various stakeholders. Many stakeholders availed this window period and benefitted from the same.
Recently, the Central Government has extended the window period of such regularization by NBA to 60 days from March 18, 2019. We recommend the stakeholders to use this opportunity and regularize any irregularity in obtaining permission / approval from NBA for access of biological resources from India.
The following are the forms which need to be filed at the NBA for various activities involving access to biological resources.
The intention behind the issuance of Office memorandum is to make people aware of the steps to be taken on accessing biological resources and to avoid chances of procedural lapse.