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Inami Bagh to be biodiversity heritage
200-year-old grove is home to 37 rare mango varieties
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Indigenous mango varieties still existing in Punjab may well be saved and even propagated further with Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh today accepting the proposal of the State Biodiversity Board to declare the nearly 200-year-old Inami Bagh in Hoshiarpur as a biodiversity heritage site.

The mango orchard, now spread over 12 acres in Bassi Umar Khan village in Hoshiarpur, has 37 rare indigenous varieties of mangoes, many of which are represented by only one tree.

Inami Bagh has been lying forgotten for a few decades now. The last eminent person to take interest in it was former Chandigarh Commissioner M S Randhawa, who wanted to collect all indigenous mango varieties in the orchard.

The orchard has survived till now only because its owners are non-resident Indians and are not in need of any money, says Hoshiarpur Horticulture Development Officer Avtar Singh while talking to TNS. He said most other old orchards in the area had been cut down but Inami Bagh had survived despite the area covered by mango trees having gone down.

Avtar Singh said Inami Bagh was probably the only orchard in Punjab where one could enjoy different varieties of mangoes during season. “People come to the orchard directly and buy the mangoes which are extremely popular in the area,” he added.

The different varieties include “saunfia amb”, which tastes like fennel; “arru amb”, which looks like a peach; “ber amb”; pencil amb (it looks like a pencil), “challi amb” (looks like a maize cob), “ladoo amb” and ‘anda dussehri”.

State Biodiversity Board Senior Scientific Officer Gurharminder Singh said 40 to 50 trees had been lost when the kandi canal cut across the orchard. He said when the biodiversity value of the nearly 200-year-old orchard was revealed, the issue was taken up with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who agreed to the proposal of acquiring the orchard and declaring it a biodiversity heritage site.

The scientific officer said the biodiversity board had conducted physio-chemical analysis of the mangoes, which revealed that there were 20 elite varieties of sucking mangoes in the orchard. He said the board proposed to acquire the orchard and create the requisite infrastructure, including proper irrigation facilities as it was situated in the eco-fragile kandi area of the state.

However, the board is clear that it will give a chance to the two NRI owners to retain the property in their name in case they allow the local biodiversity management committee to manage the property. “Or else, we will purchase it,” board member secretary Neelima Jerath disclosed. She said the board would on its part do its best to preserve the genetic value of the trees and also use the knowledge gained to develop further varieties of mangoes.





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