Those sharing the view that this place should be put on the air map of the country has also grown considerably of late.

Ever since a proposal to connect Udhagamandalam with Coimbatore and Mysore by helicopter and introduce aerial sightseeing here was mooted several years ago, people belonging to the upper strata of the society and prospective beneficiaries have been keenly following its progress.

Now even the middle class people have joined them. Their contention is that such a facility would do a world of good for tourism and be a life saver during medical emergencies.

Undependable

While the Mettupalayam-Ooty-Gudalur highway, which has served the Nilgiris for several decades, has of late become increasingly undependable on account of natural calamities and congestion, the alternative Mettupalayam-Kotagiri-Ooty highway is under tremendous pressure.

Though the Nilgiris Mountain Railway is a major tourist attraction it cannot serve the purpose of foreign and domestic tourists who are in a hurry.

Even senior officials feel that it has become a dire necessity and opine that it is high time the district had an air link.

Since children from different parts of the country and the world are studying here, a helicopter service will give a fillip to educational tourism.

It will also promote golf tourism as Ooty possesses one of the most challenging golf courses in the country.

An air service was also a long standing demand of the hospitality and travel industries here.

Survey

A survey conducted by the district administration a few years ago revealed that it would be very difficult to provide a fixed wing service.

On account of the altitude and technical problems a runway extending over about 3.2 km would be needed.

Such a large open area is very difficult to identify in the Nilgiris.

While some of the environmentalists who had earlier opposed such a service, said that if it can be introduced without causing much harm to the flora and fauna, people familiar with point-to-point helicopter services pointed out that the contribution of lorries to noise pollution was more than modern helicopters.

The authorities should strike a harmonious balance between development and conservation.

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