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CSIR-IIIM and NHAI kickstart ‘Lavender Hub Project’ at NH 44

Banihal, April 13: In a unique joint initiative of CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine and the National Highways Authority of India, first-ever project for the beautification of the National Highway NH44 and sustainable development of this stretch as Lavender Hub was conceived earlier this year and the work on the same was kickstarted here today near the south end of Banihal-Qazigund Road Tunnel (Navyug Tunnel), Banihal.

Dr. Zabeer Ahmed, Director, CSIR-IIIM and Ashok Kumar Jain, Advisor (Plantation and Clearances), Green Highways Division, NHAI, have jointly inaugurated the activities of the project by planting the Lavender Plants near Navyug Tunnel. On this occasion, Dr Zabeer Ahmed while giving detail of the project said that CSIR-IIIM through its efforts has been able to boost the economy of farmers of the region by Lavender Plantation and thus the region was brought on the world map. By implementation of this project jointly by CSIR-IIIM and NHAI, not only the Banihal-Ramban stretch of National Highway would be developed as Lavender Hub but a sustainable model would be established for income generation, he added. Dr. Ahmed also emphasized that this will add to the highway plantation and beautification efforts of NHAI, and will promote the eco-tourism.

Ashok Kumar Jain on this occasion said that NHAI has always been a leader in the sustainable development of highways and plantation in alignment of the local vegetation. He further said that the project can become a model to develop the other highway stretches on the same line and also with the involvement of local people.

Pertinently, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for this project was signed between CSIR-IIIM and NHAI on March 18th 2024 in the presence of the Union Minister of Science & Technology and Vice President, CSIR. This is a joint project costing Rs 283.80 Lacs with 50:50 partnership from CSIR-IIIM and NHAI and will be implemented for the next five years to landscape about 200 kanals by CSIR-IIIM and PIU, Ramban. The project is proposed to develop the Banihal Ramban Highway stretch as lavender hub that will serve the dual purpose of beautification as avenue plantation and long term sustainable model for post plantation operations including agri-enterpreunership among local populations.

Several other officers from CSIR-IIIM and NHAI were present on this occasion including Ravi Kesar (Retd. IFS), Advisor Plantations, RO Jammu, Dr Dhiraj Vyas, Senior Principal Scientist and Head, Plant Sciences and Agrotechnology Division and PI of this project and Rajinder Sharma, Technical Assistant.

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