MANALI: Hundreds of people who were camping in the jungles to collect rare Himalayan herbs have returned empty-handed as they failed to find the expensive species which have already been exploited by mafia from particular areas. The unscientific extraction of herbs has resulted in complete extinction of several species from some areas.
Prized herb nag chhatri (trillium govanianum) which earned crores of rupees for many people is not being spotted anywhere after hundreds of kilograms of nag chhatri collected in last few years. Nihani, kadu, van kakdi, gugal and jangli lahsun have also disappeared from forests.
Grass cover is good but herbal plants are missing. Last year, it was difficult to search herbs and this year it is impossible. I could collect only 10-15kg of kadu,” said a woman after coming back from hills near Manali. The woman said buyers come to their house to take the herbs.
Another herb picker said medicinal plants are no longer growing in places where they extracted last. He adds, “Villagers chose this practice of collecting herbs few years back when herbal plants were easily available everywhere on mountains. Everybody earned good money and few even became millionaires. I still remember I had collected over a quintal nag chhatri in 2011. This year, I could not search a single plant.”
Hundreds of people in Himachal, lured by herb mafia, go for herb collection during rainy season every year. Police and forest department take strict action and many people have been booked for illegal business of herbs. Local people collect and sell herbs at cheap rates to agents and herb mafia who further sell it for double to triple prices. According to experts, people are extracting herbs in unscientific manner leading it to vanish from that area.
A few people claimed that most expensive herb yarsagumba was also found in high altitude areas of state. Yarsagumba is generally discovered in Nepal and some adjoining areas including Uttarakhand. As one species is going extinct, people are going for the putting the species in danger.