During his speech on the 6th National Meeting of State Biodiversity Boards, Union Minister of Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), Jairam Ramesh informed that there was a proposal from the Punjab Biodiversity Board to declare the Shivalik corridor as biosphere reserve.
If approved it would be the first inter-state joint venture biodiversity project involving Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, J&K and Punjab. Jairam said that the range had been damaged by unregulated mining. It will be then brought under Environment Protection Act, 1986, which will regulate mining (sand and stone) activity in the range.
Jairam further informed that there had been a proposal from the state to declare Inami Bagh, which has 37 different varieties of mangoes, in Hoshirapur, as Biodiversity Heritage Site. "We will deliberate on it and support it."
On the grant given under the Nation River Conservation Plan, of which 22 per cent of the total grant went to Punjab in the last year, he said eight river cleaning projects had been implemented in Punjab state at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Phillaur, Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi worth Rs 215 crore.
He said that four new projects have been sanctioned for the state at Jalandhar worth Rs. 211 crore; Phagwara, Nawanshahar, Phillaur and Banga worth Rs. 75 crore; Dasuha, Mukerian, Tanda, Bhulath worth Rs 124 crore; and Hoshiarpur sewerage treatment plant worth Rs. 94 crore.
The Minister also detailed about the projects under examination of worth Rs. 104 crore, which include cleanliness of Ghaggar river at Rajpura, Munnat, Pattran, Lehra Gaga, Khannauri and Derra Bassi.
Under these projects, most of among them are for sewerage treatment plants, the 70 per cent cost would be borne by the centre and rest by the state.
A peacock breeding centre at Bathinda had been asked to be looked into by Badal, said Jairam.
Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, during his speech, proposed for setting up of an Institute of Biodiversity Education, Research and Training, for Semi-Arid Tropics for Punjab and sought approval from the union minister.
Badal said, "Our rivers are so polluted that even fishes are dying. Sewerage and industrial waste is also going in them.... Ludhiana is centre of pollution; Budha Nallah is full of polluted water. Even the milk is polluted....” He added that but with the river cleaning projects, Punjab will have clear river water.
Badal and Jairam praises each other Jairam said that in last 12 months Badal had met him five times and every time he had taken something from him.
Badal replied, "On cleaning of rivers he has done a tremendous job. I am highly grateful to him. Sometimes secretaries in department give negative views, despite this fact he has helped us. Had I been in his position, I would not have been able to do as much for Punjab."
Jairam on Bio piracy
On bio-piracy, Jairam said that it was one of India's main concerns. People in the USA had tried to patent Basmati and named it Texmati, he said and added that Neem and Haldi were also tried to be patented. In Europe and USA 1500-2000 patents are granted which are based on Indian system of medicines, he alleged.
"Now we have developed Traditional Knowledge Digital Library with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)," he informed.
The library has around 2, 00,000 lakh formulations of Unnani, Siddha, Ayurvedic and Yoga, which are traditional medicine systems. We had signed an agreement with the USA and Europe patent offices, granting them access to library so that they could check any violation of intellectual property rights before granting any patent, informed Jairam.
He said that as the area of Basmati cultivation is widespread, they had talked to Pakistan to give Geographical Indication to it.
On biodiversity resources, he said that we were not following a prohibtory approach but regulatory one. Value had to be added, but tribal or local people need to be benefited, he stressed.