Special Correspondent

`Increasing threat to the rain forests in and around Gudalur'

Udhagamandalam: A concerted effort should be made to curb the activities of land grabbers in and around Gudalur and on no account should the encroachments in or near forests be regularised.

This was the consensus arrived at a meeting of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and green campaigners from various parts of the Nilgiris and Coimbatore, organised under the aegis of the CPR Environmental Education Centre at Gudalur on Tuesday. With the participants expressing grave concern over the increasing threat to the rain forests in and around Gudalur, the Divisional Forest Officer, Gudalur, T.S. Dange, said that the Supreme Court had made it clear that non-forestry activities should not be encouraged in the forests in general and those of Gudalur in particular.

He pointed out that encroachments had already taken a heavy toll on the forest wealth of Gudalur. Underscoring the need to protect the water sources and natural resources, which provided oxygen, he lamented that since the forests in Gudalur had been fragmented into about 250 portions, they had become difficult to manage.

The president of OSAI, Coimbatore, K. Kalidas, said that until a few decades ago there had been as many as 11 corridors linking Gudalur and the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. While eight had disappeared, the remaining passed through private lands.

The Field Officer, CPREEC, M. Kumaravelu, said that the aim of the meet was to take stock of the situation arising from the growing pressure on the environment and chalk out plans to prevent further degradation. Among those who spoke were the joint secretary, Tamil Nadu Green Movement, S. Jayachandran and the Master Trainer, National Green Corps (NGC), Lakshminarayanan. The meeting resolved to take appropriate steps to protect the remaining corridors.

By another resolution it was decided to ensure that the ruling of the apex court on the forests of Gudalur was adhered to by all sections of the society. The authorities were also urged to strengthen patrolling along the Eastern Slopes in order to prevent poaching and felling of trees.

The rivers should not be diverted for plantations and the NGC should be promoted in all the villages. Mr. Dange made an audio-visual presentation on the disappearing forests of Gudalur on the occasion.