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23 Sep 2019, Edition - 1532, Monday

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Coimbatore

The flip side of tourism in the blue mountains

D.Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam : A minor fire inside the Government Botanical Garden (GBG) in Ooty late on Sunday evening tested the level of alertness of the workers of the Department of Horticulture.

On spotting the leaping flames of the fire which occurred in a corner of the 55 acre garden,just below the sentry gate of the Raj Bhavan,a few of the workers swung into action and doused the blaze with water from a pond below. If they had not reacted fast the fire would have done considerable damage.

Baffled at the cause,they suspected that it could have been started by careless tourists.

While underscoring the need to step up surveillance , the fire also focussed attention on the behaviour of many of the tourists who think nothing of flouting rules not only inside the GBG and other scenic spots but also elsewhere in the town.

Enquiries made by The Covai Post revealed that with the season in the hill station about to enter its busy period the number of visitors to the GBG had also increased substantially. While about 3000 tourists are visiting the garden on weekdays the number is over 5000 during weekends.

Warning boards like “Keep off the grass” and “No entry” notwithstanding man y tourists are seen littering the lawns ,swinging from the branches of rare trees and even standing on British era cannons. Though smoking is strictly prohibited , some find ways to take in a puff or two.

The irresponsible attitude of the tourists is being viewed with concern by many particularly green activists here.They opine that though the tourists play a major role in ensuring the economic well being of this vacation destination the questionable attitude of a sizeable percentage of them towards the environment cannot be condoned.

Mr.V.Sivadass,Managing Trustee of the Nilgiris Environment and Cultural Service Trust (NEST) told The Covai Post that special programmes should be planned to enhance awareness about the environment and sensitive ecology of the hills among the tourists.The authorities should stress more on ‘responsible tourism”

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