Congress on Tuesday took a swipe at the government after the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed in Rajya Sabha.
Congress said that it is yet another example of the huge gap that exists between what the Modi government claims and actually does especially in the field of environment and forests where “ease of doing business” takes precedence over protection, preservation and regeneration.
In a statement Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Environment MInister Jairam Ramesh said: “The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was first tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 16, 2021.”
He said that the Bill contained a number of far-reaching amendments to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
He further pointed out that the amendments had been triggered by an Uttarakhand High Court Judgment of December 21, 2018 in the Divya Pharmacy vs Union of India case which went against the company owned by Baba Ramdev.
“The judgement forced the company to have fair and equitable benefit-sharing with local communities,” the former minister said.
The Congress leader asserted that the Bill should actually have been referred to the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests.
“This, however, was not done. I can only explain this by the fact that I am the Chairman of this Committee. Thereafter, a Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) under the chairmanship of a senior and knowledgeable MP belonging to the ruling party was set up.
“The majority of the JCP members belonged to the ruling party. I had the privilege of serving on this Committee which submitted its report on August 2, 2022. In the course of its deliberations, I had submitted the following points for the consideration of the JCP which drew wide support from other members,” Ramesh said.
He then also highlighted points for the consideration of the JCP which drew wide support from other members.
Taking a swipe at the government, the Congress Rajya Sabha MP saoid that his membership of the JCP ceased on June 30, 2022 on the expiry of his term in the Rajya Sabha.
“I was not invited for its sittings thereafter even though my membership of the Rajya Sabha resumed the very next day. This, I assume, was for some procedural reason since the 2022 monsoon session of Parliament commenced on July 18th and a fresh motion had to be moved for resumption of my membership,” he said.
“The JCP has made 21 major recommendations that have my full support. What I find totally unacceptable is that the Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha on July 25, 2022 and passed today by the Rajya Sabha today has rejected all but one of these recommendations of the JCP,” he said.
“This is truly extraordinary and, in my recollection, quite unprecedented. This is an insult to the collective and painstaking efforts of the JCP that spent over seven months studying the Bill and held consultations with all stakeholders.
“The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that will soon become law is most retrograde and is yet another example of the huge gap that exists between what the Modi Government claims and actually does especially in the field of environment and forests where ‘ease of doing business’ takes precedence over protection, preservation and regeneration,” the Congress leader added.
His remarks came after the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the it passed the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, before it was adjourned for the day.
The BIll amends the Biological Diversity Act of 2002, was passed in the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote. The legislation was earlier cleared in the Lok Sabhaon July 25. The amendments to the law would give more power to the tribals and local people, Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said in Rajya Sabha.
He also said that the Bill would also aid in simplifying the patent application process.