6 Sep : Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh on Monday said Shivalik hills will be notified as country’s first interstate biosphere reserve with the setting up of a biodiversity corridor there to protect its natural habitat and flora and fauna.
“This will be the first interstate biosphere reserve so far…as it will involve several states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand,” Ramesh told reporters in Chandigarh on Monday.
Biosphere Reserve is notified to protect the larger area of natural habitat, flora and fauna and human communities.
This move follows a proposal from Punjab, seeking declaration of Shivalik ranges as biodiversity corridor to preserve and protect its ecosystem, he added.
He said the Shivalik had cultural and geological importance and that the area had been damaged by unregulated mining of sand and stone.
“We all know damage to Shivalik (because of) unregulated mining of sand and stones,” Ramesh said.
Maintaining that there would not be a complete ban on carrying out economic activity (sand or stone mining) after the notification, Ramesh said the economic activity being carried out in that area would be on sustainable basis under Environment Protection Act.
A management committee will be set up for devising biodiversity management plan to ensure sustainable economic activity in the area, Ramesh said.
Earlier in the speech, Ramesh said that his ministry will soon announce elephant as National heritage animal of India to protect the same.
“We have a tiger as national animal but the elephant will be national heritage animal,” he said.
He further said dolphins in ganges had also been declared as national aquatic animal.
Noting that bio piracy was a serious concern in the context of biodiversity, Ramesh said that countrys resources like herbal medicine, turmeric, basmati were under threat of being patented by US and Europe.
“We are under grave threat as far as bio piracy of our resources is concerned,” he said.
On the issue of basmati rice not being given Geographical Indications (GI), he said that the Centre was trying to find out a solution in consultation with Pakistan government to declare basmati rice as GI.
However, he said the Centre has set up a traditional knowledge digital library having 2 lakh formulation in Ayurveda, Unani, Yoga with an investment of Rs 10 crore to safeguard the countrys resources from being patented by other countries.
Ramesh further said that his ministry was also focusing on setting up marine biodiversity which has a coastal line of 7500 km.