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REDPOWER LEAD NEWS –AUGUST 1999

Ayurwedic Medicinal Resources AT STAKE !

A program is reported to be launched by the PA govt Ministry of Indigenous Medicine to collect samples and curing capacities of local medicinal plants. A World Bank aided project is implemented and the foreign specialists are to be involved in the researches using the local research institutions.

Many of the multilateral, multinational companies are compelled to find newer medicinal resources in order to survive in the forthcoming century. They are attempting to raveal the traditional medical knowledge and the chemical contents of the medicinal plants via different type of researches and so called plant conservation projects. In Sri Lankan context “Project of Medicinal Plant Conservation and  Maintenance” is proposed and aided by the Asian Development Bank under the patronage of World Bank. The project cost as estimated is 4.57 million US dollars. The full expenditure will be given as an aid, not to be paid back. The generosity of the World Bank is clear enough since the outcomes are so profitable for the multi lateral companies.

Their objective is covered when the project is launched in five Sri Lankan villages traditionally famous for neighboring jungles as medicinal plant sources. According to the leaflet issued by the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, “a research will be launched to collect information on the traditional use of these medicinal plants”. It also reveals that an information database will be established in the Department of Ayurvedics. But hidden under these given aims the actual aims are clear. The project is clearly used to smuggle the traditional medicinal volumes, treatment strategy and other related knowledge out of the country.

The launching bases of this project are five specific Eco-Botanical Regions in the island. These are Bibile, Ritigala, Kanneliya, Kalthota and Kumaragalakanda. Bibile in the Uva province is one of the richest medicinal reserves including Nilgala jungle. Ritigala is a natural reserve in North Central province. Kanneliya is an important jungle area within the Sinharaja Reserved Forest. Kalthota is a village in Sabaragamuwa province near the famous Rajawaka medicinal plants jungle. In the Central province Kumaragala Kanda is situated near the Knuckles mountain range with the natural Pigmy forest.

In the first phase of this World Bank project the research officers will meet the neighboring villagers of those areas and collect basic research information. This will necessarily include the traditional knowledge and treatment strategy. This is a hazard since we have no legal limitations regarding Patent rights for the Local and traditional knowledge.

So the requests are being made to all the citizens by Niyamuwa publications to prevent from supporting and allowing the so-called researchers who visit those villages. The JVP has issued a media statement to alert public and the relevant progressive- public organizations to act against the harmful project.