K. Santhosh

Government is yet to register State Medicinal Plant Board

Last year, NMPB had sanctioned Rs. 8 crore

to Kerala Forest Department

Mission envisages cultivation of medicinal

plants in one lakh hectares

Thrissur: Delay in registration of the State Medicinal Plant Board under the Cooperative Societies Act has affected release of funds from the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB).

N. Padma Kumar, Research Officer with the NMPB, New Delhi, told The Hindu that State Medicinal Plant Boards of only three or four States, including Kerala, had not been registered under the societies Act.

“I gather that the Kerala government has approved the registration of the Plant Board under the societies Act. But the formalities are not over. Hence, the NMPB is not able to release funds to Kerala for even schemes approved by the Centre,” he said.

On an allegation levelled by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy at a conference of the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers’ Organisation of India here recently that the Centre’s response to ayurveda development schemes submitted by the State was not favourable, Dr. Padma Kumar said it was baseless.

“In the first stage, the State government had submitted to the Department of Ayush proposals for Rs.12-crore projects. The proposals were rejected. In the second stage, projects for Rs.8 crore were sanctioned,” the Health Minister was quoted as saying.

“I am not authorised to speak about all the activities of the Department of Ayush,” Dr. Padma Kumar said. “But I can say that the NMPB has always taken a favourable stand towards demands from Kerala. Last year, the NMPB had sanctioned Rs.8 crore to the Kerala Forest Department.”

He said the Kerala government and its various agencies were not submitting substantial research and development projects.

“If expert committees have rejected earlier schemes, it shows they were not up to the mark.”

The NMPB offers over five years Rs.321 crore under the Central sector scheme for conservation and sustainable development of medicinal plants and Rs.630 crore under the national mission on medicinal plants.

The mission envisages cultivation of medicinal plants in 80,000 to 1 lakh hectares by 2011-12.

The NMPB has sanctioned Rs.1.5 crore to the State government under a national campaign to promote Amla (Phyllanthus emblica) cultivation in schools and other institutions.

But the amount has not been released because the State Medicinal Plant Board is yet to be registered under the societies Act.