The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 was born out of India's attempt to realize
the objectives enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) 1992 which recognizes the sovereign rights of states to use
their own Biological Resources.
Biodiversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources and
the ecological complexes of which they are part and includes diversity within
species or between species and of ecosystems.
The biological resources means plants, animals, and
micro-organisms or parts thereof, their genetic material and by-products
(excluding value-added products) with actual or potential use or value, but does
not include human genetic material.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002:
The act was enacted in 2002, it aims at the conservation of biological
resources, managing its sustainable use, and enabling fair and equitable sharing
benefits arising out of the use and knowledge of biological resources with the
Salient Features of the Act:
The other laws that NGT deals with, include:
- The Act prohibits the following activities without the prior approval
from the National Biodiversity Authority:
- Any person or organization (either based in India or not) obtaining any
biological resource occurring in India for its research or commercial
- The transfer of the results of any research relating to any biological
resources occurring in, or obtained from, India.
- The claim of any intellectual property rights on any invention based on
the research made on the biological resources obtained from India.
- The act envisaged a three-tier structure to regulate the access to
- The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
- The State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs)
- The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) (at the local level)
- The Act provides these authorities with special funds and a separate
budget in order to carry out any research project dealing with the
biological natural resources of the country:
- It shall supervise any use of biological resources and the sustainable use
of them and shall take control over the financial investments and their
return and dispose of those capitals as correct.
- Under this act, the Central Government in consultation with the NBA:
- Shall notify threatened species and prohibit or regulate their collection,
rehabilitation, and conservation
- Designate institutions as repositories for different categories of
- The act stipulates all offences under it as cognizable and non-bailable.
- Any grievances related to the determination of benefit sharing or order
of the National Biodiversity Authority or a State Biodiversity Board under
this Act shall be taken to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Exemptions from the Act
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
- The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
- The Act excludes Indian biological resources that are normally traded as
- Such exemption holds only so far the biological resources are used as
commodities and for no other purpose.
The act also excludes traditional uses of Indian biological resources and
associated knowledge and when they are used in collaborative research
projects between Indian and foreign institutions with the approval of the
- Uses by cultivators and breeds, e.g. farmers, livestock keepers, and
beekeepers and traditional healers e.g. voids and hakims are also exempted.
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 by the Central
Government to implement India's Biological Diversity Act (2002).
It is a Statutory body that performs facilitative, regulatory, and advisory
functions for the Government of India on the issue of Conservation and
sustainable use of biological resources.
The NBA has its Headquarters in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Structure of the NBA
The National Biodiversity Authority consists of the following members to be
appointed by the central government, namely:
Functions of the NBA
- A Chairperson.
- Three ex officio members, one representing the Ministry dealing with
Tribal Affairs and two representing the Ministry dealing with Environment
- Seven ex-officio members to represent respectively the Ministries of the
Central Government dealing with:
- Agricultural Research and Education
- Ocean Development
- Agriculture and Cooperation
- Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy
- Science and Technology
- Scientific and Industrial Research;
- Five non-official members to be appointed from amongst specialists and
scientists having special knowledge and experience in the required matters.
- Creating an enabling environment, as appropriate, to promote
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
- Advising the central government, regulating activities, and issuing
guidelines for access to biological resources and for fair and equitable
benefit sharing in accordance with the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- Taking necessary measures to oppose the grant of intellectual property
rights in any country outside India on any biological resource obtained from
India or knowledge associated with such biological resources derived from
- Advising the State Governments in the selection of areas of biodiversity
importance to be notified as heritage sites and suggest measures for their
State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs):
The SBBs are established by the State Governments in accordance with Section
22 of the Act.
Structure: The State Biodiversity Board consists of the following members:
Functions of SBBs
- A Chairperson
- Not more than five ex officio members to represent the concerned
Departments of the State Government
- Not more than five members from amongst experts in matters relating to
conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological
resources, and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of
- All the members of the SBB are appointed by the respective State
- Advise the State Government, subject to any guidelines issued by the
Central Government, on matters relating to the conservation, sustainable
use, or sharing equitable benefits
- Regulate by granting approvals or otherwise requests for commercial
utilisation or bio-survey and bio-utilisation of any biological resource by
- There are no State Biodiversity Boards constituted for Union
- The National Biodiversity Authority exercises the powers and performs
the functions of a State Biodiversity Board for the UTs.
Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCS):
According to Section 41 of the Act, every local body shall constitute the BMC
within its area for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use, and
documentation of biological diversity including:
- Preservation of habitats
- Conservation of Landraces
- Folk varieties and cultivars
- Domesticated stocks And breeds of animals
- Microorganisms And Chronicling Of Knowledge Relating To Biological
- It shall consist of a chairperson and not more than six persons
nominated by the local body.
- Out of total members of a BMC, not less than one third should be
women and not less than 18% should belong to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled
- The Chairperson of the Biodiversity Management Committee shall be
elected from amongst the members of the committee in a meeting to be chaired
by the Chairperson of the local body.
- The chairperson of the local body shall have the casting votes in case
of a tie.
- The main function of the BMC is to prepare the People's Biodiversity
Register in consultation with the local people.
- The register shall contain comprehensive information on availability and
knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or
People's Biodiversity Registers (PBR):
- The PBRs focus on participatory documentation of local biodiversity, traditional
knowledge, and practices.
- The register shall contain comprehensive information on the availability
and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other
use, or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.
- They are seen as key legal documents in ascertaining the rights of local people
over the biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS):
Under Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 the State Government in
consultation with local bodies may notify the areas of biodiversity importance
as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.
The Biodiversity Heritage Sites are the well-defined areas that are unique,
ecologically fragile ecosystems - terrestrial, coastal, and inland waters and,
marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following
- richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific
- high endemism
- presence of rare and threatened species
- keystone species
- species of evolutionary significance
- wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties
- past preeminence of biological components represented by fossil beds
Having significant cultural, ethical, or aesthetic values; important for the
maintenance of cultural diversity (with or without a long history of human
association with them)