The Tamil Nadu Government on Tuesday, issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.
The site comprising 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village (Melur block) and 53.8 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk) will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage site, said a notification.
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Arittapatti village, known for its ecological and historical significance, houses around 250 species of birds including three important raptors - birds of prey, namely the Laggar Falcon, the Shaheen Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle.
It is also home to wildlife such as the Indian Pangolin, Slender Loris and pythons.
The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs that serve as a watershed, charging “72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check dams,” the notification said. The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of Pandiyan kings in the 16th century is one among them.
Several megalithic structures, rock-cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds add to the historical significance of the region.
The District Forest Officer S. Gurusamy Dabbala said notifying an area as a biodiversity heritage site would help in protecting its rich and exclusive ecosystem.
“Through the steps to be initiated by the Forest Department, factors that may harm the biodiversity will be kept at bay,” the official added.
Conserving biodiversity and preserving heritage
To prevent the loss of biodiversity and to preserve the cultural and architectural heritage of bygone times, the State government, upon the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board has declared Arittapatti a biodiversity heritage site.
An order issued by Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Forests and Climate Change said, the declaration of the site, has been made under the Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.