Ex-forest officer prepares ‘vaidyas’ to preserve Odisha’s medicinal plants – The New Indian Express

Express press service

BHUBANESWAR: A queue of vaidyas (practitioners of traditional medicine) and people interested in learning about medicinal plants wait outside Biswanath Hota’s house every Sunday morning. Although 81 years old and paralyzed, Hota meets them all and spends the whole day clarifying their doubts about the uses of medicinal plants and the means of preserving them. This has been his routine for two decades.

Bhawanipatna-based Hota retired as Assistant Forest Conservator on July 31, 1999 and since then has never been dull. From helping people to create small medicinal gardens to spending his pension money training young vaidyas to understand the properties of medicinal plant species in the Kalahandi and Gandhamardan hills, he has all done.

“Our state is a rich storehouse of medicinal plants and each of us should know about them to preserve them for the future,” said Hota, who has now decided to donate 3,000 rare books on botanical and medicinal plants from her collection and his research. over his four-decade career at Kalahandi University for the benefit of students and researchers in the field.

During his tenure as Assistant Conservator of Forest, he played a pivotal role in documenting the properties of most of the medicinal plant species available in the Kalahandi and Gandhamardan hills. As a member of the executive committee of the Odisha State Medicinal Plant Board and a member of the advisory committee of the Odisha Vanaspati Vana Society, Hota has also brought together many vaidyas in Kalahandi district to research the subject. Through his efforts, Kalahandi currently has five registered and three unregistered Vaidya Sanghas with over 1,000 active members.

“The vaidyas come to me every week to discuss various herbal medicines and all of them are keen on conserving the rare species which is good for the future of herbal medicine in Odisha,” Hota said.

He said that out of the 41 varieties of endangered medicinal plants in Odisha, 14 varieties are endangered due to unsustainable extraction of their bark. Among them, the Ashoka tree is critically endangered and is mainly found in the Dhuanali-Barbara forest zone, which is considered as the “treasure island” of the Khurda forest division for its rich flora and fauna. . For his efforts, he has been praised by various organizations and regularly participates in herbal medicine panel discussions in Doordarshan and Akashvani.

Alvin J. Chase