Jatropha germplasm investigation nears completion

as the investigation into the alleged theft of Jatropha carcus germplasm nears completion, Sunil Puri, the prime accused in the case, who had joined the uk- based d 1 Oils as a technical director in Coimbatore, has gone on leave.

Puri was formerly heading the forest department of the Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur, and joined d 1 Oils in December 2005. However, soon after he quit the university, 18 local varieties of jatropha were found missing.

The matter has since been under investigation by the National Bio-Diversity Authority, as the state government had sought its expert opinion on the issue. The state government also constituted a high-level committee headed by the principal secretary of the state and the agriculture production commissioner .

Another committee constituted by the vice chancellor of the university, A R R S Shastri, and the Chhattisgarh police too were investigating the matter. As of now, except the agriculture production commissioner , all have submitted their reports .

While the investigation is nearing completion, the member secretary of Chhattisgarh Biodiversity Board and additional chief conservator of forests Ram Prakash says, "It's certainly a matter of theft, as transferring bio-resources to a foreign company without informing the government is against the provisions of the Biodiversity Act.'

Nikhil Khanna, spokesperson of d 1 Oils, clarifies that Puri is no longer on the payroll of the company. "Puri's contract has not been terminated, but his contract is suspended until the matter is resolved,' Khanna adds.