Biodiversity registers to be completed by March 2021
Delayed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the finalisation of the people’s biodiversity registers (PBRs) in Haryana is now expected to be completed by March next year, officials said on Thursday. While initial drafts of at least 6,400 registers — at a panchayat, zila parishad and municipal corporation levels — have already been prepared, the drafts lacked quality and will need to be improved through more fieldwork, current and former officials of the Haryana State Biodiversity Board said.
PBRs are techno-legal documents that will serve as a repository of information on plants, animals and crops, along with traditional knowledge of their place in local ecosystems.
Earlier this year, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Gurugram had constituted an expert committee to oversee the creation of PBRs across the district, in compliance with the Biodiversity Act, 2002. This committee was to train and supervise the work of 203 biodiversity management committees (BMCs) that have been formed at the panchayat level, as well as one that has been constituted by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). A total of 6,437 such BMCs have been formed across various urban local bodies in Haryana.
“All the BMCs, including those in Gurugram, have submitted preliminary drafts of their PBRs. However, we found that the information contained in most of these registers is what was already in the public domain. Our technical support groups, which include NGOs and advocacy organisations who have been engaged to assist local bodies, were unable to properly train the local BMCs or do any extensive fieldwork due to the Covid-19 lockdown,” said Gulshan Ahuja, former chairman of the state biodiversity board.
Corroborating this development, VS Tanwar, secretary, Haryana State Biodiversity Board, said, “Covid has made it hard for the TSGs to really do their work on ground, so naturally, the preliminary drafts of the biodiversity registers are also lacking in quality and rigour. The state biodiversity board has also undergone an administrative reshuffling in June, in light of Covid, and work had been halted. But we have now taken up the work again earlier this month and the TSGs and BMCs are expected to finalise their PBRs within the ongoing financial year.”
PRBs are meant to rely on field inspections, as well as secondary data to be obtained from ‘line departments’, including the forest and wildlife, agriculture, fisheries, horticulture and animal husbandry departments.
A forest department official, who was involved in the creation of Gururgam’s PBR, said on the condition of anonymity, “The draft PBR mainly consisted of data from earlier wildlife and cattle censuses, forest surveys and so on. But the main goal of the PBR is to work with locals and understand their relationship with their biodiversity. Those surveys are yet to be completed. A third-party has been tasked with conducting the research, which will be taken up this winter.”