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21 Feb 2024, Edition - 3144, Wednesday

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“Development should be conservation oriented”



Udhagamandalam: “In an ecologically sensitive place like the Nilgiris we should never put down our guard against complacency on the conservation front”.

Underscoring this during the course of a chat with The Covai Post here on the state of the environment in the Nilgiris ,Geetha Srinivasan, former Vice President of the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association (NWEA) and Convenor, Indian National Trust for Art,Culture and Heritage (INTACH) opined that as far as the Nilgiris is concerned all development activities should be conservation oriented. Singling out the role of tiger conservation in evaluating the status of the flora and fauna in the Nilgiris in general and places like the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and adjoining areas like the Bandipur National Park in particular, she cautioned that if vigil against habitat destruction and degeneration is not stepped up it will lead to shrinkage of the gene pool.

Pointing out that it will complicate matters, Ms.Srinivasan said that already inter-breeding not only in the tiger population but also in elephants was a serious source of concern. “We have to evolve ways to prevent the rapidly growing human population and proliferating economic problems from increasing pressure on the natural forests”, she said and stressed that bio-diversity rich resources like the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve (NBR) have to be protected at all costs.People of the Nilgiris should take pride in the fact that the variety of natural vegetation in the district has very few parallels.The native intelligence of tribals should be used to protect forest wealth.

Though tourism is important for the economic wellbeing of the Nilgiris it should be regulated or it will spiral out of control and upset the ecological balance.

Stating that the land use pattern had undergone considerable changes over the years,she regretted that conversion of farm lands and tea gardens into concrete jungles was on the rise. To check this the possibility of invoking provisions of the Environment Protection Act should be explored.

The special status given to places like Arunachal Pradesh, Mathura and Mahableshwar should be extended to the Nilgiris.To a question,she expressed the hope that demonetization would help bring down demand for land in the Nilgiris and improve the quality of tourism.

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