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The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 10 Sep 2007
India: Biodiversity under threat, says report
Chetan Chahun
India has not done well to conserve its rich bio-diversity, considered the most diverse in the world. The country's 41 per cent of forest cover is at different levels of degradation and the country is making limited use of is vast gene pool in agriculture and livestock, thereby creating a risk of food security, the draft National Bio-Diversity Action Plan says.

The Environment Ministry released a comprehensive document this week detailing major areas of concern for India's bio-diversity and the proposed action plan to check further degradation and conserving bio-diversity. India's huge gene resources for food and agriculture has got limited to about 12 varieties of food. "A large number of over 300,000 samples of these cultivars, kept under long term storage in the National Gene Bank, have gone out of cultivation," the action plan said.

This is happening when local breeds are genetically better adapted to their environment, more resistant to local parasites and are most adjustable to climate change while being productive. "Greater use of local breeds will be most effective in achieving food and nutrition security objectives at the local level," the report has suggested.

In case of livestock about 30 mammalian and bird species are used extensively but only 15 account for 90 per cent account for total livestock production. Many of the 140 native breeds of farm livestock and poultry are facing threat to their survival. "Alarm bells are ringing because narrow genetic base means more vulnerability to widespread epidemics," the report said. But, the report applauds tribal groups like Bishnois of western Rajasthan, who had also complained against Bollywood actor Salman Khan for killing chinkara, for conserving bio-diversity.


Copyright @ Hindustan Times.