Environment

Biodiversity COP from Monday, ambiguity about India’s goals achieved – Naveen Bharat

New Delhi: The 15th conference of the Parties to the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP) begins in Kunming, China, on Monday, mostly a virtual session where, according to UN officials, governments will be asked to “get our broken We will need to be committed to repairing the relationship we have with nature.”
But is India repairing a broken relationship or breaking the existing one?
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international, legally binding treaty with three main goals: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. India is a signatory to the CBD and, therefore, is responsible for implementing the strategic goals set out under the Convention.
From time to time, national reports are sent to the CBD Secretariat regarding the progress in various matters. The Sixth National Report of 2018 by India claimed that India is “on track” to achieve biodiversity goals. “More than 20 per cent of India’s total geographical area is under biodiversity conservation and India has exceeded the terrestrial component of the National Biodiversity Target (NBT) 6 to 17 per cent of the 11 and the National Biodiversity Target (NBT) of 6 per cent. ”
For the implementation of the Aichi Goals, signatory countries had to submit national goals based on their country’s legal framework. Also, India adopted 12 NBTs under the Convention.
“However, this appears to be far from the truth,” said associate analyst at the Legal Initiative for the Forest and Environment (LIFE), Tanvi Sharma.
An analysis by LIFE has calculated that India’s geographical area currently under protected areas is 1,71,921 square kilometers under 981 protected areas, which includes 104 national parks, 566. wildlife sanctuary, 97 Conservation Reserve and 214 Community Reserve. It is only 5.03 percent of the geographical area of ​​India.
“Approvals have been given for removal of protected area status of large land areas. In two cases this year, entire sanctuaries were approved to be de-notified. Protected areas are part of land and biodiversity rich migratory wildlife habitats. Large portions were diverted for infrastructure projects every year,” Sharma said.
LIFE analyzed the decisions of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), which it said, “using its discretion to allow or deny proposals, found the removal of protected area land for reasons which do not benefit. Wildlife, instead, harm important wildlife habitats.”
The LIFE analysis found that between January and June 2021, the standing committee approved 1,385.34 hectares of land diversion, where 302.89 hectares was from protected areas and 780.24 hectares was from land. tiger habitat. The committee also allowed cancellation of full notification of two protected areas in Andaman and Nicobar Islands – Galathea Bay Sanctuary And Megapode Sanctuary and approved the rationalization of two sanctuaries – brackish water Crocodile Sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Bandh Bertha Sanctuary In Rajasthan.
Pointing out that despite approving such large-scale diversions every year, our international commitments are claimed to be on track to achieve the goals under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Sharma said, “With the Standing Committee on A strategic decisiveness was seen in the work, which focused on expediting and easing the approval process for ease of approving projects, with certain keystone species such as leatherback turtles, saltwater crocodiles, megapodes and of course tigers. And ignore the elephants.”
A total of 62 proposals were considered by the Standing Committee of NBWL in four sittings, out of which 29 proposals were for diversion within the protected areas. A total of 302.89 hectares (ha) were diverted under 29 proposals from wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and conservation reserves; None of the proposals were rejected.
Two protected areas in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were approved for complete de-notification, while two more approvals for ‘rationalisation’ of the Saltwater Crocodile Sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Dam Beretha Sanctuary in Rajasthan were given. The analysis states that the four approvals affect a total of 13855.784 hectares.
“Among all the projects considered, 87 per cent diversion is due to linear projects (transmission lines, roads, railways and pipelines). A total of 386.137 hectares were approved for diversion from eco-sensitive zones, out of which 100.47 hectares are forest land. and the remaining 285.662 hectares is non-forest land. Moreover, significant is that 780.2418 hectares were approved for diversion within the tiger habitat for linear projects and infrastructure development,” said Life Analysis.
“India, being a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, is under a legal obligation to meet the goals set out under this Convention. However, the fact remains that the protected area lands are subject to decisions taken by the Standing Committee every year. The reason is lost. NBWL without understanding the adverse effects of its decisions on the project-linked ecosystem,” Sharma said.
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