Biodiversity committee exists only on paper?

The local Biodiversity Management Committee constituted as per the Karnataka Biodiversity Act, 2002, seems to exist only on paper as the members have not met since one year.

As per the rules and guidelines of the Act every local body ‘shall constitute a Biodiversity Management Committee within its area of jurisdiction for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity including preservation of habitats, chronicling of knowledge related to biological diversity,’ etc.

U.N. Ravikumar, environmentalist, told The Hindu that though he was nominated member and received communication from the authorities confirming this, the committee was yet to meet. “It has been almost a year and nothing has transpired so far nor has a meeting been convened of the committee which seems to exist only on paper,” he added.

Mr. Ravikumar pointed out that such committees have to be constituted at the local zilla panchayat levels and one of the objectives was to conserve ecologically and environmentally sensitive habitats. And despite Mysuru having its share of biodiversity hotspots like Kukkarahalli lake, Lingabudhi lake, Chamundi Hills, etc., which fall under anthropogenic pressure, the committee members are never consulted to elicit opinion on any projects that may have a bearing on local flora and fauna, he said. “This means such committees are not taken seriously and exist only on paper to comply with the rules,” he added.

K. Manu of Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN) said the biodiversity committee’s mandate does not end with mere documentation of resources and giving its consent on the use of biological resources as it is generally perceived to be.

“At a large level, the committee has a say in projects that may inimical to the local ecology and ‘development’ works atop Chamundi Hills is a case in point where the committee could have been consulted,” he said.

The issue is pertinent as organisations and individuals have tried to stall the projects at Chamundi Hills, Kukkarahalli lake, etc., on environmental grounds but the authorities are steamrolling their opinion. Besides, the members of the committee are not consulted on any issue.

Hence, questions are being raised about the seriousness of the government in constituting such committees in the backdrop of projects worth crores of rupees coming up atop the Chamundi Hills where pristine forests are giving way to concrete jungles.

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