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Ooty's wayside gardens go to seed

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NEEDS ATTENTION: A wayside garden in a state of neglect along the Lord Wenlock road in Udhagamandalam. - Photo: D. Radhakrishnan
NEEDS ATTENTION: A wayside garden in a state of neglect along the Lord Wenlock road in Udhagamandalam. - Photo: D. Radhakrishnan

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: Udhagamandalam, which takes pride in its verdancy, is rapidly turning grey and brown on account of the proliferation of buildings and denudation of the hills.

With transformation becoming a major source of concern to various sections of society, particularly environmentalists and senior citizens, a view gathering ground here is that the hill station's wayside gardens should not only be protected but also improved.

Having for long been conspicuous features of the vacation destination which provided a treat to the eyes, many of them have over the years gone to seed owing to misuse and neglect.

Many old residents regret that the gardens which used to stand out against the landscape are now dwarfed by huge concrete structures which are springing up all around them. Some have fallen prey to the designs of encroachers.

The old residents recalled that a beautiful wayside garden on the Government Botanical Garden road which had been taken over by encroachers had been reclaimed with considerable difficulty a few months ago. It has been fenced and efforts are on form another garden there.

Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH), the Nilgiris, convenor Geetha Srinivasan told The Hindu that if the wayside gardens were allowed to deteriorate posterity would not forgive the present generation. Since this vacation destination and flowers are synonymous more wayside gardens should be created. There are now about 10 such gardens.

Maintenance

Government Botanical Garden manager N. Mani said that though the department of horticulture off and on helped improve some of the wayside gardens, owing to want of maintenance they became eyesores in a few days.

Mr. Mani promised that the traffic islands at Charing Cross would be beautified soon. A civic official said some of the corporate sector undertakings displayed considerable eagerness in taking over the gardens for maintenance. However, when it came to upkeep they are found wanting.

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