The Botanical Survey of India was established on 13th February, 1890 with the basic objective to explore the plant resources of the country and to identify the plant species of economic virtues. After independence, a plan for reorganization of the Botanical Survey of India was drawn for the much needed inventorisation of the country’s rich floral resources. Dr. E.K. Janaki Ammal was appointed as Officer on Special Duty on 14th October, 1952 to draw plans for the revival of BSI and the reorganisation plan was approved by the Government of India on 29th March, 1954 with Calcutta as the Headquarters. The primary objectives of the Survey then were to undertake intensive floristic surveys and collect accurate and detailed information on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and economic utility of plants in the country; to collect, identify and distribute the materials which may be of use to the educational and research institutions and to act as custodian of authentic collections in well planned herbaria and to document the plant resources in the form of Local, District, State and National Floras. During the successive plan periods, the functional base of BSI was further expanded to include various new areas such as inventorising of endemic, rare and threatened taxa; evolving conservation strategies; studies on fragile ecosystems and protected areas which include Sanctuaries, National Parks and Biosphere Reserves; monitoring of changes in floristic components; multiplication and maintenance of plant germplasm, endemic and threatened taxa and wild ornamentals in Botanical Gardens and Orchidaria; ethnobotanical and geobotanical studies and development of National Database on Herbaria (including type specimens) as well as live collections, plant genetic resources and plant distribution. Present objectives of the BSI are:
- Exploration, inventorisation and documentation of phytodiversity in general and protected areas, hot spots, fragile ecosystems and sacred groves in particular; publication of National, State and District Floras.
- Identification of Red list Species and species rich areas needing conservation; ex situ conservation of critically threatened taxa in botanical gardens.
- Survey and documentation of traditional knowledge (ethnobotany) associated with plants.
- Develop a National Database of Indian plants including herbarium and live specimens, illustrations, botanical paintings, etc.
- Revisionary / Monographic studies on selected plant groups.
- Qualitative studies of nutritive value of ethno-food plants and other economically useful plants.
- Capacity building in plant taxonomy through refresher courses and post M.Sc. certificate course.
- Environmental Impact Assessment of areas assigned to BSI for study.
- Develop and maintain Botanical gardens, Musea and Herbaria.
- Preparation of Seed, Pollen and Spore Atlas of Indian Plants.
The reorganised Botanical Survey of India with its Headquarters in Kolkata/Howrah, comprising the following Units – Cryptogamy, Ecology, Library, Pharmacognosy, Plant Chemistry, Publication and Technical; Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah; Central National Herbarium, Howrah with Palynology Unit; Central Botanical Laboratory, Howrah with Economic Botany Unit; Industrial Section, Indian Museum, Kolkata; and Regional Centres, viz., Southern Regional Centre, Coimbatore; Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong; Western Regional Centre, Pune; Northern Regional Centre, Dehra Dun; Central Regional Centre, Allahabad; Arid Zone Regional Centre, Jodhpur; Andaman & Nicobar Regional Centre, Port Blair; Arunachal Pradesh Regional Centre, Itanagar; Sikkim Himalayan Regional Centre, Gangtok and Deccan Regional Centre, Hyderabad. Besides, there is Botanic Garden of the Indian Republic in Noida.