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Bio-resource based firms told to register by Jan

Bengaluru: Days after Forest, Ecology and Environment Minister Eshwar Khandre’s intervention, the Karnataka Biodiversity Board has invited companies using the biological resources in the state to register themselves as per the law by January 6.

The Biological Diversity Act came into force two decades ago and the detailed guidelines to implement its features were issued in 2014, the Board has struggled to enforce the rules aimed at conserving the biodiversity and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of commercial use of biological resources.

Under the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) rules, the traders extracting herbs, plants and other biological resources have to pay 1% to 3% of the purchase price while companies manufacturing products have to pay 3% to 5& of the purchase price. The companies using bio resources for commercial use also had the option of paying the benefit sharing of 0.1% to 0.5% based on the turnover from the annual gross ex-factory sales after the taxes. Besides sharing of benefits, the rules seek to check over exploitation of resources.

However, the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) that had to be set up at every local body which were instrumental to enforce the ABS rules were not formed for years. When the Board finally started enforcing the rules, the traders and companies took the legal route to block the efforts.

“Last year alone, we filed cases against 30 companies for failing to comply with the ABS rules. About 20 of them have already got a stay from the High Court of Karnataka. Now, the legal battle will determine how far we can be effective in implementing the rules. We are now creating awareness among the companies to encourage them to register as bio resource users, which will pave the way for easy management of biodiversity,” a senior official said.

Last week, Khandre instructed the Board to give one more opportunity to the companies. “Registration is mandatory. However, considering that many have not done it yet, give them a time of 60 days to comply,” he said.

The Board will look into the applications for ex-post-facto approvals and conduct a hearing to understand if the applicant had a reasonable justification for the delay. Those who fail to apply will face action as per the rule, a notification said.

(Published 11 November 2023, 00:10 IST)

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