“We are acting on various tip-offs”

MADURAI: The National Biodiversity Authority has stepped up its vigil across the country on those indulging in ‘bio-piracy’ following the case booked against an agricultural university professor in Chhattisgarh for allegedly trying to send genetic material of ‘jatropha’ to a foreign destination.

According to S. Kannaiyan, Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority, commercial utilisation without prior permission from the Government is not permissible under the Biodiversity Act 2002 but investigation has revealed that the Chhattisgarh professor had entered into a tie-up with a private company abroad for commercial exploitation of original jatropha variety.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, he said that the NBA was in constant touch with airport officials on bio-piracy cases because misuse by individuals could lead to India losing patent for its own property.

“The Chhattisgarh case, which happened a few months ago, was a turning point for protecting genetic materials. We are getting tip-offs on some cases and special committee of experts has been formed in the Authority to strictly enforce the Act and protect biological resources,” he said.

Awards to farmers

For the first time, the NBA has decided to present awards to farmers in all States who show keen interest in preserving local plant varieties as part of their agricultural operations.

He said that farmers would be identified in States through a proper mechanism and already a couple of farmers in Kerala had been found to be doing good work in conservation. “It will be both cash award and a certificate. All these are part of agro-biodiversity protection,” Prof. Kannaiyan said.

The NBA is planning to spend about Rs.50 crore for various biodiversity activities which included Rs.10 crore for setting up of biodiversity conservation parks in different States including Tamil Nadu, another Rs.10 crore for conducting awareness programmes and documentation of all genetic resources/creation of a mega database.