Several States have failed to set up full-fledged State Medicinal Plants Boards (SMPBs), resulting in the lapse of Central funds notwithstanding the directions and persuasion by the Centre.
Only eight states--Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal — have full-time chief executives and full-fledged SMPBs, while other states were yet to take any pro-active measures in this regard. This has resulted in the lapse of funds for the preservation of medicinal plants in the States.
Against this backdrop, the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) is planning to overhaul itself to make the projects more effective in the coming years. At present, an evaluation of the schemes is underway and the programmes will be revised as per the outcome of the evaluation.
The laxity on the part of the States and the status of programmes by the NMPB had recently come in for the scrutiny of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health also. “The Committee is of the view that full-fledged SMPBs with full-time chief executive officer will certainly lead to better implementation of the Schemes and programmes of NMPB and more efficient deployment of financial resources. The Committee, therefore, recommends to the Department to expedite its decision on increasing support for full fledged SMPBs,” the panel said.
The panel also expressed concern over the amount of central funds remaining unaccounted. “The Committee notes with concern that a substantial amount of central funds for the previous years continues to remain unaccounted for under both the schemes of NMPB which is indicative of non-adherence to the basic financial norms. The Committee feels that the delay in timely submission of utilisation certificates would adversely affect execution of the projects,” it said.
NMPB, established in 2000, is the apex national body which co-ordinates all matters relating to medicinal plants in the country and provides financial support to programmes relating to conservation, cultivation and the all-round development of the medicinal plants sector.
The NMPB is also implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Mission on Medicinal Plants since 2008-09. This Scheme is primarily aimed at supporting market driven medicinal plants cultivation on private land with backward linkages for establishment of nurseries, for supply of quality planting material and forward linkages for post-harvest management, marketing, infrastructure, certification, etc.