September 10, 2015
The horse rides at Doddabetta, which resumed after a six-month long hiatus, have again come to a halt. Environmental activists have raised concerns about the recommencement of horse riding.
The activity, which had resumed after six months, was stopped with questions being raised about the movement of poorly maintained domestic horses in the reserve forest area.
Environmental activists said about 25 horses were brought to Doddabetta in the Nilgiris North Division Forest for the tourists who went there from Udhagamandalam. They said that these were former race horses that were disposed off cheaply and most of them were aged or unwell. They also alleged that the owners of these animals cared little about their wellbeing.
However, since the horses were a source of income for their owners, the activists said that steps should be taken to monitor the health of these animals before they were allowed into forest areas for commercial activity. There was the very real danger of these horses carrying infections and diseases into the forest. However, the environmentalists who disapproved of commercial activities in the forest said they did not want to take away the livelihood of people who catered to tourists there, such as those who run eatery stalls.
“We don’t want the Forest Department to chase them away and spoil their livelihood,” an activist said. All they demanded was that the waste generated at these stalls be properly disposed.
Forest officials said that they had restricted animals from entering the forest areas at Doddabetta and would take steps to dispose off waste in an appropriate manner outside the forest area.
Doddabetta is the highest mountain in the Nilgiri Hills at 2,637 metres (8,650 feet). There is a reserved forest area around the peak. It is 9 km from Udhagamandalam on the Ooty-Kotagiri Road.