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State forms panel to revise royalty on medicinal plants

Although five departments deal with medicinal plants, none has the real picture of their produce and sale.

dehradun Updated: Feb 22, 2018 22:23 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,panel,revise royalty
A biodiversity garden at the Regional Science Centre.(HT FILE (REPRESENTATIVE PIC))

The Uttarakhand government has formed a committee to look into revision of royalty on the medicinal plants business, officials said.

Although five departments deal with medicinal plants, none has the real picture of their produce and sale. According to official records, government stakeholders and van panchayats extract medicinal plants and pay a royalty of 8%. There is no account of the size of illegal trade cashing in on the growing demand for the plants.

“It’s correct that we do not know the actual business of medicinal plants in Uttarakhand,” said Jai Raj, head of forest force (HoFF) and principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF). “The royalty was last revised 10 years ago in 2007-08 and it’s time to revise it for better revenue generation.”

Additional chief secretary Ranbir Singh constituted the committee to look into revision of royalty on medicinal plants. Main medicinal plants, such as bay leaf, lichens and mosses, are marketed through government agencies.

The Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC) annually provides a market of about Rs 35 crore. The business depends on the identified area from where medicinal plants are extracted by van panchayats and government-designated groups.

The Herbal Research and Development Institute (HRDI) at Gopeshwar provides a market of nearly Rs 8 crore annually to registered panchayats. The Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board and bhaishajya department also deal with medicinal plants but do not have an account of the extraction -- legal or illegal. The forest department is the monitoring agency.

“Only 20% of the extraction is legal in Uttarakhand. This extraction reaches the designated markets. Remaining 80% business is under cover,” said a senior IFS officer close to the matter.

“We don’t know whether the medicinal plants are extracted from reserve forests, protected areas or cultivated. The task of HRDI is to scan such people, farmers and mediators, and investigate the trade in medicinal plants.”

UFDC managing director STS Lepcha accepted that there are no policies in the state to check illegal extraction of medicinal plants and their business.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 22:22 IST