The Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod, Kerala, said here on Friday that its research centre and International Coconut Gene Bank for South Asia, spread over 120 hectares (about 300 acres) at Kidu, near Kukke Subrahmanya in Dakshina Kannada, will not be shifted out to any other location.
Replying to questions at a press conference here, Director P. Chowdappa termed recent reports appearing in a section of media on the same as purely speculative.
Mr. Chowdappa said that Kidu housed one of the five largest coconut gene banks in the world. The others are in Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Papua New Guinea.
Except the one at Kidu, all the other four gene banks are under threat due to various reasons like diseases and urbanisation. Of 453 coconut germplasm at Kidu now 95 are exotic (from outside India).
Of the total area in Kidu, 95 hectares are under coconut cultivation, followed by arecanut on 7.5 hectares and cocoa on 2.5 hectares.
The director said that Karnataka forest department had given the said land to the CPCRI on lease for 30 years which expired in 2000. Following it, the Forest Department, recently, wrote to the CPCRI to deposit ₹19 crore to renew the lease with it.
The Forest Department’s action follows a direction by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the Supreme Court, to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sometime ago that it should reclaim all forest land diversified for other purposes.
Now the CPCRI would explore three options to resolve the latest issue, he said.
It would file an affidavit before the CEC requesting it for relief in the payment of amount sought by the forest department. It would also apprise the CEC the importance of the coconut gene bank at Kidu.
Since the land in question had a good number of coconut trees they helped in bringing down greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like trees in the forest.
The institute would discuss the matter of payment with its parent organisation, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).
In addition, the director said that the matter would be taken up with the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network in its steering committee meeting at Bangkok, Thailand on August 20. India is the member of the committee.
A request for its funding would also be made. He said that following media reports that efforts were on to shift it, the CPCRI has been receiving a number of calls from elected representatives and others.
“The research centre will not be closed down or shifted at any cost,” Mr. Chowdappa said adding that he would be leaving for Delhi on July 30 to take up the matter with the government.