Biopiracy & Forest dweller’s rights

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Karnataka High Court has issued a notice to the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) following a public interest petition accusing the authority of callousness towards protecting the country’s biodiversity. The Supreme Court in February 2019 ruled that over 1.12 million households from 17 States are to be evicted by the State governments before July 27 who have had their claims rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.

About Biopiracy:

  • Biopiracy refers to the practice of commercially exploiting naturally occurring biochemical or genetic material, especially by obtaining patents that restrict its future use, while failing to pay fair compensation to the community from which it originates.
  • As per the authors, forests inhabited by Adivasis are some of the best-conserved places in the subcontinent (which, however, is not believed by most educated Indians).
  • There are many examples of biopiracy. People of developed countries are befooling the people of developing countries and getting patent. Neem and Haldi are very useful plants and indigenous people were aware of their usages.

About Forest dweller’s rights :

  • To address the adverse living conditions of many tribal families living in forests was on account of non-recognition and vesting of pre-existing rights, a landmark legislation viz. Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, has been enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations, but whose rights could not be recorded.
  • This Act not only recognizes the rights to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood, but also grants several other rights to ensure their control over forest resources which, inter-alia, include right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce, community rights such as nistar; habitat rights for primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities; right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
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SC judgment on eviction of forest dwellers:

  • The Bench acknowledged the need to further delve into whether due process was followed by gram sabhas and States’ authorities under the FRA before the claims for forest rights of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) were finally rejected.
  • Over 11 lakh ST and OTFDs across 16 States faced the brunt of the apex court’s order of eviction.
  • After protest by the forest dwellers, the SC has put a stay order on the above judgment till July 10th on its earlier ruling.
  • Further, it is not very clear as to how many are individual claims and how many are community claims. Some of the forest dwellers may even fall under the ‘other traditional forest-dwellers’ category.

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Sources: The Hindu

Must Try: MCQ on Biopiracy

Consider the following statements with regards to Biopiracy

I. It is the practice of commercially exploiting naturally occurring genetic material or biochemical.

II. African super-sweet berries is an example of Biopiracy

Which of the following statement’s is/are correct?

A. I only

B. II only

C.Both I and II

D. Neither I nor II


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