J&K Biodiversity Board non-functional, no meeting held during past over 2 years

Decisions taken in 2nd meeting remain confined to official files

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 20: At a time when biodiversity conservation is the buzzword all over the country, the Jammu and Kashmir State Biodiversity Board has remained non-functional during the past over two years. Moreover, the decisions taken by the Board long time back have remained confined to the official files due to absolute non-seriousness on the part of concerned authorities of the State Government.
Due to this, the Government has nothing significant to show vis-à-vis biodiversity conservation on the International Day for Biological Diversity which is going to be celebrated on May 22. Like in the past, the concern over this vital issue will remain confined to speeches in the official functions without any tangible steps on the ground.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that vide SRO-200 dated June 29, 2015 the State Government in exercise of powers conferred by Section 63 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (Central Act) framed Jammu and Kashmir Biological Diversity Rules, 2015. Accordingly, as per the provisions of the Act and Rules J&K State Biodiversity Board was established to perform multilateral duties with the common goal of ensuring conservation of biological diversity.
Initially, the Board met and held threadbare discussions on working out strategies and action plan for conservation of bio-diversity in a planned and systematic manner but with the passage of time the Board completely lost focus of the Government, sources said while disclosing that last meeting of the Board was held in December 2015.
The delay of over two years in convening meeting of the Biodiversity Board is notwithstanding the fact that Jammu and Kashmir Biological Diversity Rules, 2015 clearly state that the Board shall meet at least twice in a year. “By not convening its meeting since December 2015 the Government has rendered the Board non-functional”, sources said.
What to talk of convening regular meetings of the Board, the concerned authorities have even failed to implement the decisions taken in the 2nd meeting of the Board held in the month of December 2015, sources said while disclosing that Board had approved setting up of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) in 12 Panchayats of the State in first instance namely Doodu-Basantgarh, Gujjru- Nagrota, Kalaroos-Lolab, Diskit-Nubra, Drass, Duksum, Dagapora-Haran, Atholi-Gulabgarh-Padder, Marwah-Wadwan, Gurez and Bani.
This decision was in consonance with Rule 19 of J&K Biological Diversity Rules, 2015 which makes constitution of Biodiversity Management Committee in every local body mandatory for maintaining data on biological resources and their protection.
“What to talk of generating public awareness regarding conservation of biodiversity through Biodiversity Management Committees across the State the concerned authorities have even failed to establish such committees in 12 Panchayats”, sources informed, adding “even decision of the Board in its 2nd meeting regarding roping in experts and NGOs interested in biodiversity activities to facilitate and supplement the efforts of Board has not been honored till date”.
In the absence of regular meetings of the Board even action plan for conservation of biological diversity could not be prepared till date as such the objective behind setting up of Board stands defeated, sources said.
“It is a matter of concern that the Government is paying no attention towards biodiversity conservation especially when some of the rare and valuable flora and fauna are threatened with extinction in all the three regions of the State”, sources regretted.
As per the J&K Biological Diversity Rules, 2015, the State Biodiversity Board is required to advise the Government on any matter concerning conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components; commission studies and sponsor investigations and research; organize comprehensive awareness programme regarding conservation of biological diversity; give directions to local bodies and Biodiversity Management Committees for effective implementation of the Act; devise methods for ensuring protection of right including intellectual property rights over biological resources and associated knowledge etc.
When contacted, Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Forest, Environment and Ecology Department Saurabh Bhagat confirmed that Board has yet not formulated action plan for conservation of biodiversity. “Required steps will be initiated in shortest possible time to make the Board functional as per the provisions of the law”, he added.


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