KARNATAKA

Hopes revived on conservation of Chamundi Hills

MYSORE, AUG. 14. The State Government's decision to transform the Chamundi Hills into a heritage site and take action against encroachments around them has revived hopes of their conservation.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, has taken exception to encroachments reported around the hills and directed the authorities concerned to hold an investigation and initiate action against the guilty.

Master plan

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who interacted with senior officials and villagers on Friday night, suggested framing a master plan to beautify the hills and take up development works in the area.

These views are similar to the long-term objectives of the Mysore Area Heritage Task Force, which had carried out a survey to identify encroachments and steps to conserve the hills.

Greens' suggestion

Welcoming Mr. Siddaramaiah's interest in this regard, environmentalists and activists here, however, said there were contradictions in his proposals such as installing streetlights on the 8-km stretch leading to the hills.

This would efface the natural beauty and would amount to giving a green signal to urbanisation in the area, they said.

On his suggestion for a master plan, environmentalists said many reports on conserving the hills were pending with the Government. Only prevention of encroachment and ending urbanisation would help achieve that goal.

This also called for demarcating a buffer zone around the hills with a core zone by following a stringent land-use pattern.

Blueprint

The task force has submitted a blueprint for the conservation of the hills with inputs being provided by leading conservationists, environmentalists, botanists and concerned citizens.

The blueprint gave thrust to conservation of greenery around the hills and declaring them a protected area. It underscored the need for conserving land within a 500-metre radius of the hills and a ban on construction of concrete structures that did not jell with the hill environs.

Land within a 300-metre radius outside the buffer zone should be considered the core conservation area.

Land within a 200-metre radius of the core conservation area should be developed into a peripheral conservation area meant only for horticulture, forestry, nursery, safari park, ecotourism and related sports without any concrete structures.

Buffer zone

Similarly, the Forest Department had mooted the idea of a buffer zone around the hills, given their importance as a geological and environmental entity harbouring biodiversity.

Environmentalists said efforts should be made to dovetail these reports to help crystallise an action plan.

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