Cinchona News: Need to Cinchona Plantation in Darjeeling.
Siliguri: Amid high promises made by all those who matter, Cinchona plantation in Darjeeling is at shamble despite having sky high potential in the sector of high potential medicines that includes steroids or anti-cancer drugs. Now the demand has started coming up for the plantation's to be declared as a world heritage site.
Directorate of Cinchona and Other Medicinal Plant (DCOMP) serve the whole country with cinchona tree bark to produce anti-malarial drug Quinine. Now is gradually getting deep into darker region with its already accumulated loss of over Rs 500 crore, annual expense of around Rs 25 crore and practically no income.
A Darjeeling hills based organization 'Kalimpong Krishak Kalyan Sangstha' has now demanded world heritage status for the plantation that is even older than world Heritage Darjeeling Toy Train.
Ex worker for DCOMP octogenarian B Chetri said, "I support the demand. But, proper rehabilitation and modernization of the organization is more important."
In the year 1862, the plantation was first established at an altitude of 2,000 - 4000 ft in Darjeeling hills to produce anti-malarial Quinine from the barks of Cinchona trees. And gradually, it became economic backbone of hills. But following introduction of synthetic quinine in '70s, it started facing dark era.
DCOMP started developing other medicinal plants like Dioscorea to produce steroids, Ipecac to produce antidiarrheal medicine and finally Taxus baccata, to produce anti-cancer 'Taxol.' In 1994 a high tech factory to prepare steroid was also commissioned on turn-key basis by Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu (RRL).
But none of those succeeded. In 2006 DCOMP was handed over to Department of Department of Food Processing Industry from Department of Industry and Commerce.
Technical experts said "Proper management of any one of these alternate medicines could have saved the organization." The former left ruled West Bengal State Government decided to lease out 8270 acre of land but could not finalize any taker. It also prepared revival package for the organization.
CM of present government Miss Mamata Banerjee promised, "I shall bring Cinchona plantation back to its glory."