Smuggling of forest produce:Committees set up to conserve medicinal plants

Srinagar, Sep 27: Waking up to the exploitation of high-value medicinal plants, Jammu and Kashmir government has constituted district level committees of experts for the preservation of endangered plant species in the state.

Kashmir has become haven for smugglers who are exploiting the rich resource of medicinal plants, which are used in aromatherapy and cosmetics.

There are 571 different kinds of medicinal plants available in the state.  Several medicinal and aromatic plant species like Trillium is at the verge of extinction.

Another medicinal plant having huge international value is Artemisia (Wormwood), locally known as Tethwan. These could be found in Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Gananpeer and parts of Budgam and Kupwara.  Other medicinal plants smuggled from Kashmir include ‘Kutki’, which is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Sources said that Governor-led administration has expressed concern over extinction of several rare medicinal plants. “The authorities have directed officers to take necessary measures for preservation of medicinal plants,” sources said.

Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that the government has decided to constitute district level committees of experts for the preservation of endangered plant species in the state.

Similarly, the government has also constituted a nine member committee headed by Secretary Health and Medical Education Department to monitor and evaluate all activities under J&K State Medicinal Plants Board and for effective implementation of the schemes for preservation of medicinal plants in the state.

“The government has been unhappy with the performance of JK State Medicinal Plants Board for failing to preserve the rare medicinal plant species. These committees have been constituted to ensure rare plant species are protected,” sources said.

Earlier in 2005, the J&K government had imposed a ban on the extraction of medicinal plants, fearing extinction of some species. However in 2013, J&K Government lifted ban on the extraction of several medicinal plants and other minor forest produce.

Advisor to Governor, K Vijay Kumar, who also holds the portfolio of Forest Department, recently said government was taking several measures for preservation of medicinal plants. 

“The government is also going to frame a state medicinal plant policy to make medicinal plants sustainable. We have also directed the officials to take steps for re-generation of plant species which are rare so there is no fear of their extinction. Efforts are also being made to stop smuggle of forest produce,” Kumar has said.

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About the Author

When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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