"We are setting up an All India Institute of Ayurveda in Delhi over a land area of around 15 acres," Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Tuesday.
"The medical college will be set up in south Delhi near the Apollo Hospitals with an investment of Rs.1.5 billion. All kind of research and referral activity in the field of herbal medicine will take place here," Ramadoss told IANS on the sidelines of a community outreach programme on herbal gardens.
"The medicinal plant industry will be worth $5 trillion by 2050 and we must try our best to cultivate more medicinal plants."
The minister said 32 percent of all medicines consumed in the US are herbal based and India must try to tap its vast resource available in every state.
Speaking in the function on developing home herbal gardens, he said: "Last year, we had started a school herbal programme and now this community reach programme will help our people, especially youngsters, to take advantage of the available resources. We are starting in Delhi but soon it will be expanded to the entire country."
Under the herbal garden project, Delhi residents can develop medicinal plant gardens in their backyards. To begin with, over 120 resident welfare associations (RWAs) were given free herbal saplings including aloe vera, tulsi, ashwagandha, brahmi, manduk parni, mint and lemon grass.
The project is a joint initiative of the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB), the health ministry, the Delhi government and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
"This will help maintain a balance of biodiversity. If cities can go for herbal plantation then its loss in rural areas can be compensated. Besides, this initiative will encourage people to stop swallowing pills every now and then," TERI chief R.K. Pachauri told IANS.
"Herbal and botanic gardens can play a key role in protecting all our herbal plants for the future. TERI's initiative highlights the importance of plants and ecosystem services they provide for all life on earth, with a focus on biodiversity and human well-being," he added.
Elaborating on the project, NMPB chief executive officer B.S. Sajwan said in the first phase they would distribute 200,000 medicinal plants in Delhi and in the second phase, they will take this project to all other states.
He said they were also planning to rope in Mother Dairy booths and nurseries under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to sell these plants at a nominal rate.
"In the last five years, we have provided financial help to farmers across the country to cultivate medicinal plants. As of now medicinal plant cultivation on at least 100,000 acres has taken place with our assistance," Sajwan said.