“Most herbs are smuggled to India right under the nose of District Forest Office,” said Milan Chand, a resident of Sallibazaar.
He claims that smugglers are decamping with at least 5,000 tonnes of herbs from the region every year.
According to Bir Bahadur Gharti of Majhkanda Village, herbs like Chutra, Kurilo, Sunakhari and Silphu are increasingly becoming rare these days.r />“It takes hours and hours to find the plants that used to be in abundant supply not that long ago. This situation arrived due to the apathy of the forest officers and community forest users’ groups,” he said.
Villagers concerned have raised an alarm about depleting medicinal plant resources at places like Bame, Devsthal, Ghajaripipal, Majhkanda and Nigalchula of Bingadh Kupinde Municipality. They say herb smugglers are invading the other regions as well, including the districts of Rukum and Jajarkot.
Chief District Officer Purna Prasad Dhakal says there is little the authorities can do to stop the smuggling of medicinal plants because of the difficult terrain.
“It is difficult to reach the parts of the district from where herbs are being collected and smuggled. Salyan district is losing around Rs 200 million worth of herbs in the form of contraband every year,” he said.