Jumbos killed nine persons in the last five years

Despite stiff opposition from wildlife activists, the Public Works Department (PWD) has decided to go ahead with its plan to promote tourism activities at Varattupallam Dam in the district and submit a formal request for approval from the Forest Department.

A ‘bhoomi puja’ was performed on Monday at the site in the presence of Anthiyur MLA S.S. Ramanitharan, but the work was not started as there was no approval from the Forest Department.

Sources here said the PWD obtained the relevant forms from the forest authorities to apply for permission to create basic amenities, including toilets, a shed and a parking lot at the dam located in the Anthiyur forest range, which has a significant elephant population.

The government had earmarked Rs.30 lakh for tourism promotion at the dam, one of the perennial water sources for elephants and other wildlife in the South Burgur and the Ennamangalam reserve forests.

“We are going to submit a formal request soon,” an official said.

The PWD move comes at a time when the fringe areas of the forests in the district are witnessing a sharp increase in man-animal conflict.

The Public Works Department is trying to increase the human movement in a conflict zone. The jumbos killed nine persons at Varattupallam Dam and the nearby areas in the last five years. The promotion of tourism activities will only intensify the conflict,” a senior forest official here said on condition of anonymity.

“It is not safe to promote human movement in the dam that is located within the forests,” the official said. “Since the dam is a perennial water source, it attracts a large number of elephants. The dam has water even during summer,” K. Kalidasan, a wildlife activist and president of Osai, an NGO, pointed out.