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Need for policy to preserve biodiversity: Experts

 

In the absence of a “gene pool and a biodiversity bank or repository”, scientists grope in the dark over the status of microbial and flora-faunal biodiversity in the state as all agencies involved in research and extraction are working at cross purposes.
 
Scientists call for combined efforts and a government policy for the preservation and propagation of biodiversity, which promises a goldmine for research and development and for agricultural and industrial uses in the state.
 
From the freezing climate of -40°C of Lahaul-Spiti to the boiling 80°C hot water springs of Manikaran, Himachal promises extreme climes for biodiversity. But nothing concrete had been done by different scientific agencies to leverage farming and industry to save the environment from decadence in the state, scientists said.
 
Researchers were not involved in the cutting-edge research on biodiversity, but they were involved in a piecemeal academic pursuit to produce academicians or working for individual industrial houses, said sources.
 
These gaps in research and development and preservation and promotion of biodiversity came to light at a seminar organised at MLSM College, here, in collaboration with the University Grant Commission (UGC). The seminar was inaugurated by Anish Garg, senior Judge, Sundernagar.
 
“Biodiversity is a fad among academicians as Himachal has no gene pool and repository or bank of biodiversity, the scientists said.
 
Dr Arvind Bhatt, associate professor with the Department of Biotechnology, HPU, Shimla, delivered a key lecture during the seminar. While talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of the seminar he said: “We do not know how much of microbial biodiversity is available in the soil or microbial loss in the soil. We can develop bio-fertilisers and vermi-compost for farmers and extract medicinal plants. But we have no dedicated research and technology policy to accomplish the task.”
 
Dr Bhatt said they had made a start towards the entrepreneurship development programme and vermi-compost. But they have miles to go. The pooling efforts of different agencies should be involved in the task.
 
He said they could use biodiversity, raising eco-friendly microbes for agricultural and industrial uses. But they need a clear policy on biodiversity bringing it under the ambit of the National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority.
 
The scientists say there is a repository of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, a herbarium, at Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry. Some ground work has been done to develop a “microbial germ plasm” at the ISBT, Palampur. But they need to pool efforts and need more funds for coordinated and targeted research.
 
Former, PSO, State Council for Educational Research and Training, Dr Subhash Gupta, Dr MC Thakur from Biosciences Department, Principal, MLSM College, Dr Ashok Sharma, Convener of UGC, committee of the college, PC Rana and coordinator, career and counseling cell Dr CP Kaushal also underscore the need for a coordinated effort to preserve and propagate biodiversity.
                                                         The Tribune (26-11-2012)