After a prolonged exercise involving various stakeholders, an expert committee has submitted the draft Nagaland Biodiversity Rules to the State government.

The five-member Expert Committee on Biological Diversity was formed under the supervision of Nagaland Empowerment of People through Economic Development (NEPED), an autonomous government body, to prepare the draft rules.

The panel held series of discussions, seminars and workshops at grass root levels for nearly two years besides receiving views and suggestions from individuals while formulating the draft. Thousands responded to the questionnaires through e-mails to the NEPED website.

It is expected that a bill in this regard might be tabled in the Budget session of the Assembly after it receives the State Cabinet’s approval.

Informing this to newsmen here, the members of the committee described the draft as a landmark achievement since the villagers responded overwhelmingly to the participatory approach adopted by the panel while preparing the report.

They said the draft reflected the aspirations of the people on biodiversity conservation and sustainable uses of resources.

The Committee members said the draft Rules did not infringe upon the traditional and daily practices of Naga knowledge keepers, farmers and healers.

The Committee also suggested constitutions of Tribal Hoho Biodiversity Management Committee to network and facilitate all local level biodiversity management committees by clearly defining their functions and responsibilities and their linkages to the State Biodiversity Board.

With a view to emphasize the autonomy of the Nagaland State Biodiversity Board, the Committee recognized the fact that it has to carry out its functions in conformity with Naga customs and traditions to give effect to Article 371(A) of the Constitution.

Under the Article 371 (A) land and its resources, tribal and customary practices are protected.

The members of the committee are Elusing Meru, Convenor and Secretary Forest, noted environment lawyer Sanjay Upadhayay, R.K. Verma, Amba Jamir Venguta Nakro, Member Secretary.