Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill establishes the Agricultural Biosecurity Authority of India (ABAI) to protect plants, animals and related products from pests and diseases to ensure agricultural biosecurity.
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- ABAI will regulate imports and exports of plants and animals, as well as their inter-state movement. Imports and exports of plants and animals shall only be allowed if they are issued permits by the respective authority in the originating country or by ABAI, respectively.
- ABAI will also conduct surveillance of pests and diseases in the country, undertake pest risk analysis, and interact with research institutes and state governments on plant and animal protection.
- ABAI may notify quarantine pests. It may also declare an area as a controlled area if it is suspected of being infested with pests. It shall communicate the measures to be taken by the state government.
- If a state government fails to take the required measures, ABAI can take necessary steps to eradicate or contain a quarantine pest in a controlled area. The state government shall reimburse ABAI with the costs incurred for such purposes.
- The central government may declare a biosecurity emergency on the recommendation of ABAI in case of a pest or disease outbreak.
- ABAI shall discharge international obligations under various international trade, sanitary and phytosanitary agreements.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Currently, import, export, quarantine, and the inter-state spread of plant and animal diseases are regulated by various entities under different laws. These functions will be subsumed under the proposed ABAI.
- Other countries have established biosecurity systems similar to the one proposed under the Bill. Most of them have established national authorities that regulate imports, exports, quarantine and inter-state movement of plants and animals.
- The Standing Committee examining the Bill recommended a higher representation of states in ABAI. It also recommended removing the requirement for states to reimburse ABAI for measures taken by it to contain a quarantine pest or disease.