Valley News Desk

20 medicinal plants in Kashmir on verge of extinction

Smuggling, unmanaged grazing, reasons behind extinction: Experts

Umaisar Gull Ganie

Srinagar, Dec 08 (KNO): Around 20 medicinal species of plants are on the verge of extinction in Kashmir owing to the massive extraction and smuggling of the herbs for the last two decades.

According to a notification issued by Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the 20 medicinal plants have been categorised as “critically endangered” on the basis of recommendations by the Union Territory government.

The 20 medicinal plants mentioned in the list include Aconitum chasmanthum (Patees), Aconitum deinorrhizum (Metha patees), Aconitum heterophyllum (Mohra), Aconitum kasmiricum, Aconitum violaceum (Patees), Eremostachyssuperba (Sumbal-e-biabani), Gentianaornata (Gentian), Gentianakurro (Neel Kanthi, Kuru), Lagotiscashmeriana (Kashmir lagotis, Hong len-Ladakh) Meconopsislatifolia (Gul-e-Neelam) Meconopsis aculeate, (Blue poppy), Saussureacostus (Kuth), Saussurea medusa (Snow lotus), Saussureasimpsoniana ( Phen Kamal, Jogi Badshah), Sophoramoorcroftiana (Baker, Praval Simi (Ladakh), Podophyllum hexandrum (Bankakkri, Banwangun), Dactylorhiza hatagirea (Salam panja), Picrorrhiza kurroa (Kutki) Betulautilis (Bhurj) and Taxus wallichiana (Barmi).

Talking with news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), an official said that massive extraction and smuggling of the herbs since the last two decades is the main reason for their extinction.

“Due to their high medicinal value, these species are being illegally transported to other places like Chandigarh, New Delhi and other states where scores of pharmaceutical companies buy it,” an official 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 the ban on the extraction of several medicinal plants and other minor forests produce.

Akhtar H Malik, a botanist at the University of Kashmir told KNO that over exploitation, unmanaged grazing and no information to forest dwellers have resulted in the extinction of several medicinal plants.

“People living in forests who deal with the medicinal plants get peanuts for it, while the traders living outside J&K profits out of it,” Malik said. “Moreover, unmanaged grazing has added to its extinction.”

Malik said to save the medicinal plants from extinction, there is a need to give some rest to some forest areas so that such plants can grow again.

“People who often are wandering to get such plants are uneducated and don’t know which part is valuable. Due to unawareness, they often cut such plant from the root, thus killing it forever,” he said.

Malik said that construction through forest and forest fire are also reasons behind the depletion of medicinal plants in the Valley.

“There is a need to stop illegal trading of these plants and encourage people to buy such herbs through market intervention scheme only,” he said.

There are around 800 medicinal plants in the Himalayan belt of northern India.

Malik said that many of them like Trillium govanianum, Fritillaria roylei, Saussurea costus, Arnebia benthamii cost Rs 50,000-100,000 per Kg in the international market, “thus making it endangered medicinal plants.”

Meanwhile, as per the MoEF notification, the Government of India (GoI) is now legally bound to fund the projects for the protection of these species—(KNO)

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