High-profile institutions make wild habitat their home
It is not for the first time that a leopard has strayed into Tirupati and hence the latest ‘visit’ has hardly created a flutter.
The panther, sighted at the TTD’s model temple a couple of days back, was successfully driven back into the woods by the forest officials, who restricted traffic for 30 minutes on the Saluva Narasimharaya Road (Alipiri-Cherlopalli bypass). More than a dozen incidents of the big cat entering the newly-developed human terrain hit the headlines during the last decade. The first deadly incident was the mauling to death of a woman in Mangalam, followed by leopards making their presence felt on the Tirumala ghat roads and pedestrian footpaths, on the Bhakarapet ghat on the Tirupati-Piler highway and even near Kapila Theertham, which falls very much in the city limits.
The road involving the latest foray is dotted by high-profile institutions like SV University, SV Veterinary University, SV Agricultural College, SVIMS University, Regional Science Centre, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and more. APSCHE’s novel concept of ‘21st Century Gurukulam’ eventually fell flat, but the building meant to house it, tucked much deeper in the forest , stands today as a symbol of disuse. The presence of SV Zoological Park is justified as its mouth opens into the forest.
“Though the area is a non-reserve forest belonging to both the TTD and the revenue department, the authorities should have exercised restraint in allotting land in this sensitive zone”, reasons an environment activist. When contacted by The Hindu to check the veracity of the statement, P.V. Chalapathi Rao, Conservator of Forests, Tirupati Wildlife Management Circle, confirmed thus, “The northern side of the road skirting Tirumala is a rich wildlife habitat and hence panthers and deer freely move here”.
The larger malaise for the burgeoning city is the truncated space, limited by the presence of hills on the north and the huge protected water bodies of Avilala and Peruru tanks on the south and west, respectively. With so many shortcomings, the city expansion has been severely constrained, leading to mushrooming of colonies and institutions, even in the wild habitats.