October 22, 2019
Businessmen in the Nilgiris are urging the State Government to restrict the import of foreign medicinal oils in order to preserve the heritage herbal oil of the region, better known as Nilgiri Thailam (eucalyptus oil).
Nilgiri Thailam dates back to the British times. All tourists coming to Ooty, besides buying varkis and homemade chocolates, also eagerly buy Nilgiri Thailam. Nearly 30,000 people are producing and marketing this oil. Some of these units are also being outsourced by corporate companies to manufacture pain relief medicinal oils.
Hundreds of people are being directly and indirectly employed by this industry, where even a decade ago about 20 tonnes of Nilgiri Thailam was being made and sold and a litre of this oil sold for Rs.1,500.
However now, oils are being imported from China and South Africa which has affected the oil manufacturers of Nilgiris. Now every month the production is only 10,000 litres of oil and the prices have been reduced to Rs.1000/tonne, though this oil is more effective than the foreign ones. Some companies are even adulterating the foreign oils with Nilgiri Thailam and selling it.
Disappointed farmers raising eucalyptus trees and Nilgiri Thailam manufacturers, businessmen and others are losing income everyday. Many have even shifted to other businesses and vocations. Current data shows that only 10,000 persons are involved in this business and are also suffering heavy losses. They claimed that if this situation continued, the Nilgiri Thailam business will be totally wiped out.
A Nilgiri Thailam businessman M Puraghavan said, “The State and central governments should take steps to preserve this business. To start with, they should ban the import of similar oils from abroad or at least increase import taxes. This will help protect the interests thousands of local persons involved in this heritage business.”