On Sunday, over 200 citizens joined hands to form a human chain on Elliot’s Beach, to save Guindy national park (GNP), Raj Bhavan and the IIT-Madras (IIT-M) campus, saying they housed the last of the Southern thorn forests and the tropical dry evergreen forests in this part of the country.

Over 12,800 persons have signed an online petition to save GNP. The petition, which urges the Central and State governments to create an eco-sensitive zone around GNP, also calls for stopping ongoing construction on the campuses of IIT-M and Raj Bhavan.

Nityanand Jayaraman, member of Save Guindy National Park Campaign, said the eco-sensitive zone is an area where human intervention and human pressure will be kept to a minimum, so it does not affect the national park. According to the Supreme Court, until there is a notification, the zone will be up to a radius of 10 km. This is also an environment ministry guideline.

Daya Lakshmi, author of the online change.org petition and a member of Save Guindy National Park Campaign, said over the past ten years, IIT-M had built structures on nearly 52 acres by cutting down an estimated 8,000 trees.

“Their master plan aims to add another 2.65 lakh sq. m. of building and accommodate a doubled population on the existing premises. More buildings mean more people, more traffic, more pressure on freshwater, and more garbage — plastic and sewage,” she said.

The petition suggests IIT-M set up a satellite campus instead of expanding inside the existing premises.