Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved a Centrally-sponsored National Mission on Medicinal Plants.

The total outlay is Rs. 630 crore and the mission will be implemented through the Department of Ayush under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry during the 11th Plan period.

As raw material

By 2011-12, an extent of 80,000-1,00,000 hectares is proposed to be covered under medicinal plants — to be used as raw material by the herbal industry — through direct financial assistance for cultivation.

An almost equal area will be covered by giving incentives to farmers who switch from traditional crops in regions where infrastructure for quality plant material, processing, warehousing, marketing, quality testing and certification is promoted through cooperative of self-help groups and corporate houses.

Briefing reporters, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said about 200 nurseries would be raised in both the public and private sectors for making available certified plant material.

The interventions were expected to generate approximately six crore mandays of employment by 2011-12.

The mission would help in developing the medicinal plants sector through production of raw material of quality and standardise constituents for use by the AYUSH (Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) and herbal industry, as well as for exports and thereby enhance the quality and acceptability of AYUSH systems and promote export of value-added items for an increased share in the world market.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal for revamping the river conservation strategy under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).

The implementation of the revamped strategy with a holistic approach and redesigned institutional arrangements would result in greater focus on river conservation affairs, accelerate restoration of water quality for ecological benefits, and improvement in the health and livelihood of people living downstream, Mr. Dasmunsi said.

The Ganga Action Plan was launched in 1985 with the objective of abatement of pollution caused by discharge of sewage as well as other pollutants. In 1995, it was was renamed the NRCP and broad-based to tackle pollution in other identified stretches of major rivers, for improving water quality to bathing standards.