To promote tourism in Varatupallam
: The Public Works Department’s move to promote tourism in the Varattupallam dam in the reserve forests of Anthiyur block in Erode district, has drawn sharp criticism from wildlife activists.
Sources here said the government had allotted Rs. 30 lakh to the department for promoting tourism activities in the dam. The department had planned to construct toilets and a shed for visitors, besides a parking platform.
Wildlife activists say the dam is one of the handful of water sources frequented by a large number of elephants, deer and hyenas.
There are at least 1,000 elephants, 25 tigers and a large number of deer, vultures, hyenas and other animals in the jungles.
“The promotion of tourism activities will increase the movement of people and disturb the wildlife,” Osai K. Kalidasan, an activist, says.
“The region has been witnessing a sharp increase in the human-animal conflict. Elephants have killed more than 20 persons in the last six months. There are a number of places in the district where the authorities can carry out such activities. Varattupallam is located in the jungles and serves as an important water source for the animals. It is not the right place to promote tourism,” Mr. Kalidasan said.
Instead of carrying out tourism related activities, the administration should restrict the people movement in Varattupallam area which would help reduce the human-animal conflict significantly, wildlife activists here said.
A senior official in the department said the dam was attracting a significant number of people, particularly the residents in Anthiyur block. “The locals find the dam as a good place to spend their time leisurely. So, we have planned to provide some basic amenities. But we don’t have any further plans to carry out tourism promotion in a big way there,” the official told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. A senior forest official said the PWD had not approached his department for approval.
Sources say the government has allotted Rs. 30 lakh to the department