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Rare medicinal herb worth over Rs 5 lakh seized in Doda

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Bhadarwah, Jul 11: A rare medicinal herb worth Rs 5.5 lakh was seized while it was being smuggled from Doda district, a forest official said Thursday.

Acting on specific information, Forest department sleuths conducted a search operation on the inter-state Bhadarwah-Chamba road, connecting Doda with Chamba in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and seized 650 kg of ‘Bergenia Ciliata’ locally known as ‘Zakhm-e-Hayat’ hidden in the bushes in 24 gunny bags, a senior Forest official said.

The rare herb was being illegally transported to Chamba and was dumped in the thick bushes, DFO Bhadarwah Chander Shekhar said.

“We have been getting information regarding smuggling of banned herbs to the neighbouring states. Last night after receiving information about the consignment being smuggled to Chamba through interstate road, we managed to seize the huge consignment packed in 24 gunny bags hidden in the bushes at Bhaderwahi Goth on interstate border about 51 km from here,” he said.

“We have received the video footage of smugglers while extracting the banned herb from the forest and have also identified them, who hail from the border villages Thanhala and Sharekhi. We have prepared a case under relevant sections and they are being booked for violation of section 6 of Jammu Kashmir Forest Act 1987,” he added.

He said the department is also recommending that the habitual offenders to be booked under PSA (Public Safety Act).

On June 30 also, the same herb worth over Rs 3 lakh was seized from the area while it was being smuggled to neighbouring Chamba.

Smuggling of the endangered medicinal herbs including ‘Zakhm-e-Hayat (Bergenia Ciliata) and Nag Chhatri (Triltrillium Govanianum), continues from Chenab region especially Bhadarwah Forest Division despite the State government imposing a ban to save the herbs from extinction.

“But the high demand for the rare herbs in China and Nepal tempts the smugglers,” the official said.

Bhadarwah Forest Division which has its interstate boundaries with district Chamba of Himachal Pradesh and Pathankot of Punjab has become the hub of Zakhm-e-Hayat and Nag Chhatri smuggling in recent times.

The rare herb ‘Zakhm-e-Hayat’ is found in the altitude of 2,500 to 3,800 metre in Himalayan region. Its root is believed to be used to treat kidney stones, crystalluria and renal failure, vertigo and headache, the official said.

The plant also acts as astringent, tonic and has anti-inflammatory effect and is applied as poultice for stiff joints, boils, abscesses and skin infections.

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