Severe frost has hit normal life in this hill station. Open areas resemble frozen lakes in the wee hours of the day.

Bitter chillness has made the people seek the warmth of their houses earlier than usual. Among the places affected were the Government Botanical Garden, the Race Course and areas abutting the Ooty Lake.

With the mercury plummeting, the minimum temperature recorded at the garden ranges between two and five.

Pointing out that the intensity of the frost has made it necessary to step up protective measures, Joint Director of Horticulture N. Mani told The Hindu here on Sunday that pop-up sprinklers were being switched on in the morning and evening to prevent the lawns from getting scorched.

Observers said that the minimum temperature in places like Thalaikundah, Pykara, Mukurthi, Western Catchment and the Wenlock Downs had already gone to zero degrees Celsius and below. Lower parts of Kotagiri, Coonoor and their surroundings were also reeling under cold wave conditions.

The tea yield in many of the estates has started coming down. In frost prone areas like Lovedale, tea gardens have been scorched.

K.C. Ponnappa, chairman, Nilgiri Planters Association (NPA) said that this year growers in the eastern part of the Nilgiris have already been badly hit by inadequate rainfall. Hence it will be a double blow for them. Ramesh Bhojarajan, president, Nilgiris Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers Association said that for the past about six or seven years some of the tea gardens on the outskirts of Kotagiri have been getting scorched.

The shivering conditions notwithstanding, the inflow of tourists is fairly good. Hoteliers said that the flow was expected to increase considerably around Christmas.

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