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Chamoli emerging as ‘Yarsagumba’ smuggling hub

Over the last few years, the district, about 150 km from Dehradun, has emerged as a paradise for smugglers who clandestinely smuggle Yarsaguma--a fungus, which is famous throughout the Himalayas as a powerful medicine. Though the police have impounded 4.5 kg of the fungus worth ₹68 lakh in the international market from in the last three months, the catch is only a tip of the iceberg as most of it is smuggled.

dehradun Updated: Jul 20, 2017 20:59 IST
Arvind Moudgil 
Arvind Moudgil 
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Chamoli,Yarsaguma
Chamoli police recently arrested a man with Yarsagumba.(HT Photo)

CHAMOLI: Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district that shares an international boundary with China has a rich biodiversity with a number of herbs, including Keeda Jadi or Yarsagumba, popularly known as “Himalayan Viagra”.

Over the last few years, the district, about 150 km from Dehradun, has emerged as a paradise for smugglers who clandestinely smuggle Yarsaguma--a fungus, which is famous throughout the Himalayas as a powerful medicine.

Though the police have impounded 4.5 kg of the fungus worth ₹68 lakh in the international market from in the last three months, the catch is only a tip of the iceberg as most of it is smuggled.

The state police and forest department admits that a syndicate of brokers is working in an organized manner that buys Yarsagumba directly from the villagers and smuggles it out of the region using unfrequented mountain routes.

Yarsagumba found at higher Himalayan ranges, above 3500m for its libido boosting power, is priced very high in the international market and fetches a price of ₹2 to 5 lakh (in the local market) for every kg depending the quality.

The “Himalayan Viagra” plays a vital role in boosting the economy of the remote areas of the district. Villagers from go up to the higher ranges to collect the fungus after the snow starts melting and to control the over exploitation of Yarsagumba, the forest department issues permit to individual through van panchayat.

The applicant is suppose to declare the amount of collected and furnish the name of the buyer as well as the selling price, said NN Pandey, divisional forest officer of the Nanda Devi National park.

More than 10% of the sale goes to the van panchayat, he says.

“Most villagers do not declare the right amount of Yarsragumba and try to sell it off illegally themselves or through brokers and at times get caught.”

Chamoli superintendent of police Tripti Bhatt says a number of people have been caught for possessing illegal Yarsagumba during a drive against illegal activities in the district, following a tip off.

“Many, however, manage to sneak through the revenue areas using uncharted routes avoiding the police,” she says.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 20:59 IST