In a region mired in conflict, it takes all the more courage, and perseverance to be the voice of the voiceless, and to separate facts from propaganda. Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

Now or Never : Save Nag Chhatri

By  Bhushan Parimoo



Pronounced thrust is being articulated to improve Health &Wealth through Medicinal Plants these days. A well come step long overdue in a right direction. But there is nothing new in this oldest remedy but displaying   it in a Sloganeering Bottle. Authorities loses sight of that the inhabitants have ingrained knowledge passed on through the generations about the natural substance of the plants origin. It has been well recorded that humans have been using them from the early times of the civilization. Subcontinent has developed Traditional mode of medicines in Ayurveda, Unani, and Aamchi practice of treatment based on plants materials.  Readily available most of the time within vicinity or nearby. That too at no or  at  a very little cost beside with no side effect. In fact Herbs came handy in the ailment treatment in most of the diseases before the advent of chemical formation drugs associated with harmful    side effect.  Grandmothers are known to have always kept handy plants based material in a cloth pouch in Dogri it was called Dadi ji Kee Patoli with them for treatment in emergency for minor ailments. World has admitted the importance of the Plants in saving lives now.

Nature has  been kind enough to bestowed so many divine herbs  to this state unfortunately failed to  treat these with care   which may  cause whole species  to disappear forever. Unscientific management of Herbs unabated rather in connivance with large scale smuggling of the Herbs are being carried in full view. Forests in the State are now deprived of Herbal plants wealth and this is a huge cause of concern. It requires a community approach to forest conservation and sustainable development. Which is conspicuously altogether missing here with the forest Department. Forests depend always on survival of the local communities which the authorities fail to recognise. Among the long and unending list of endangered species one of them is Nag Chhatri Herb. It is the herb of subalpine, where Deodar and Kail tree line ends Fir tree takes place. While the authorities deny its being pushed to extinction stage express situation is not that grim forests have sufficient stocks. Usual stance taken even when authorities are exposed with facts and figures. This writer carried for about two years detailed in-depth inquest,   sought and got inputs from the Environment Awareness Forum who are spread in every nook and corner of the State mostly living rural mountainous areas of the state. Field check and recheck, emerges a perturbing one scenario. Due to its effective medicinal properties, the demand of this drug is high in the international markets and is often smuggled out to markets in Punjab reported it sells @ 1500 to 2000 a kilo .This calls for need to protect, preserve and develop   this threatened herbal .  However it has been wantonly almost wiped out and robbed off  by Forest   Department Trupeetes ( in Kashmiri means –Tricksters par excellent) over the years in full gaze  with perfect immunity .

We call it in Kashmiri Tre part means three leaves Satgandi in Dogri/Guari, Laidi in Shina ,Gurmeda in Poogli Urdu name : Nagchhatri Hindi name : Satva/Nagchhatri .. It is one of the Himalayan baby from flora, Afganistan, Pakistan, entire subalpine reaches  on both sides of the State  other parts of the country, Nepal, China and Bhutan at an altitude of 2700m-4000m. In the State its distribution is widely spread  in the Alpine Pasture on the both sides of the of the state Lolab, Machil, Karen Bangus, Kanzalwan, Gurez Gulmarg, Sonamarhg, Amarnath , Phalgam,Poonch, upper reaches of Marwa, Baderwah,Bharat Doda Gulabgarh  , Zanaskar etc. It is said even in the Botanical books it had not been shown as a medicinal plant. Botanical name: Trillium govanianum Family : family  is a perennial herbaceous plant species prefers humus rich soil in shady places stocky 15 cm purple-red stems carry 3 green leaves just below a single, small, starry flower of deep red and green colour on the axis . This species is unusual in that the sepals and petals resemble each other, giving a six-petalled appearance. These contrast well with the prominent yellow anthers and red style that sits atop the flower. The flower is followed by a grape-red fruit, sitting at the centre of the three leaves. Flowering: May-June. It is shared that a collector, on an average, collects 8-19 kg of fresh tubers in a day. Average fresh weight of a tuber of a mature plant is generally to be 3.13-1.57 gm which on drying reduces to 1.59-0.79 gm. Therefore one kg of dry weight some 630indivual plants are uprooted. Uprooting of the entire plant before seed setting  is restored to which per sure hamper its regeneration .This renders every inch of forest floor dug up to remove the species as if somebody has ploughed the forest floor. It has a long history to be used locals as medicines effective medicinal properties roots used as antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenagogue ( to promote menstruation). The roots fresh or dry boiled in milk is used to diarrhoea and dysentery. The raw root is grated and applied as a poultice to the eye in order to reduce swelling. Or on aching rheumatic joints. Common name which it carries is for to promote menstruations. And may other ailment.  .The fact is Traders who deal in herbs know far better than the Forest Department people itself. Readers may be surprised to know that in near past a minor Forest Produce was caught in Forest Division Billawar Jammu, had no idea what it was. Inquest begun for days all groping for some time in dark it till a Range Officer identified it. He had his master’s degree from Himachal Pardesh where its smuggling had become known then. This is how department knew about this herb. Gujjars, Bakerwals, Highland dwellers and Gaddis knew about it since centuries and its uses. It was found on a net site that one Sheikh Abdul Hamid suggests that ‘Trillium govanianum can be easily grown from seed but due to illicit extraction the availability of seed is difficult. The growing economic importance of this herb deserves proper attention from forest departments for its conservation and propagation. this herb is integral part of temperate Eco-system excessive removal of this herb can fragile the whole temperate forests”. Another suggestion from one  Syed Aftab Hussain Bukhari called in  2014 all botanists, foresters, conservationists, and those who have the positive approach to conserve this species. I am suggesting you all to establish a fund and train the farmers and extractors to grow this species in Nurseries. Just criticizing the individuals and institution is not enough. We have to think, plan and act appropriately. I will request to IUCN, WWF, FAO, UNDP/GEF and UNESCO to include this species in the special concern and support its conservation”. Dr CM Seth, the retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the State has cautioned as far back as in 2013 to save it with the remarks, “What is the use of Forest Act, Wildlife Act, Environment Act and Biodiversity Act. If these Acts cannot prevent the extraction form forests these should be scrapped”. Now or Never: Save Nag Chhatri. Complete ban on Extraction and export of Herbs which present set up is not aware to have it done. For which every state Subject has to come forward to save our rich biodiversity which is at present at the receiving end. Indian Forest Services, a hybrid Fence instead to protect munch on and on so goes the dirty roll of its performance,  has failed miserably the State in protecting preserving Protecting and developing the Biodiversity instead make best of these green pastures  with a mind-set of  outsiders as they claim .

(The author is a Jammu based Environmentalist)