March 31, 2023

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has listed Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, including it on the list of protected plants.
  • This move is aimed at protecting the plant from being destroyed or uprooted, which has become a major threat to the flowering areas. The new order also includes strict penalties for those found guilty of destroying or uprooting the plant. Environmentalists have welcomed this move, and have called on the Forest department to ensure the protection of the areas where Neelakurinji blooms.

Penalties for destroying the plant

  • As per the new order, those who uproot or destroy the Neelakurinji plant will invite a fine of ₹25,000- and three-years’ imprisonment.
  • The cultivation of Neelakurinji and its possession is also not allowed. This is a significant move, as it will help in protecting the plant and its habitats.

About Neelakurinji plant

  • Neelakurinji is an endemic plant found in a small stretch in the Western Ghats, from the Mangaladevi hills to the Nilgiris hills. The most popular Neelakurinji is Strobilanthes kunthiana which blooms once in 12 years.
  • However, some other rare varieties of Neelakurnji are also found in the Western Ghats region. The blooming of Neelakurinji is a major attraction for tourists, who flock to the locations where it blooms. However, this has also led to the destruction and uprooting of the plant, which is a major threat to the flowering areas.
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