Minister for Forests K. Ramachandran on Saturday said the State government had sought ₹12.26 crore to establish a zoological park at M.R. Palayam on Tiruchi - Chennai highway.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at M.R. Palayam, he said the State government had received a number of representations to develop a zoological park at the site. After some preliminary steps in 2009, a compound wall was raised to a distance of 5.4 km around the park. It had been proposed to establish the needed infrastructure for the zoo at an estimate of ₹12.26 crore. The Central Zoo Authority of India had agreed to sanction the project and was to expected to release the funds soon.
In the first phase, Mr. Ramachandran said it had been decided to bring two types of deer from the Nilgiris to the zoo at M.R. Palayam. Steps would be taken to bring other animals gradually once the Central Zoo Authority of India released the funds. Similarly, steps were being taken to create needed facilities at the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at M.R. Palayam, where eight elephants rescued from private owners had been given shelter.
The Forest Department had raised about 2.5 crore saplings at its various nurseries. Besides using the saplings for improving forest cover, they would be supplied to various departments and interested persons for raising trees. Since the DMK government assumed office a number of steps were being taken to improve the forest cover, which stood at 23.7% in the State. It had been decided to increase the forest cover to 33% in the next 10 years.
Mr. Ramachandran said residents, mostly tribes, of Pachamalai hills, had sought the relaying of the ghat road from Sobanapuram to Top Sengattupatti. Options would be explored to get funds for the project. The Forest Department had approached the State Highways and the Tribal Welfare Department to relay the 25 km stretch of ghat road. One of them would agree to the proposal. Otherwise, the Forest Department would take up the road work shortly.
Collector M. Pradeep Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests N. Satish, District Forest Officer G. Kiran, Tiruchi Mayor M. Anbazhagan and others accompanied the Minister,