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. Hence, Neelakurinji has joined the list of 19 plants that are listed under Schedule III.
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.
Penalties for destroying the plant
According to the new order, individuals who uproot or destroy the Neelakurinji plant will be fined Rs 25,000 and imprisoned for three years. The new order also states cultivation and possession of Neelakurinji are not permitted.
The blooming of Neelakurinji plant is a major tourist attraction in Munnar, a hill station in Kerala.
Neelakurinji is among the exotic flora found in the forests of Munnar here is the Neelakurinji. This flower, which bathes the Nilgiri hills in blue every twelve years, will bloom next in 2030 AD.
Why is there a need for Neelakurinji protection?
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 variety of 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 huge drawcard for the tourists, who flock in large number 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.