Mudumalai reserve likely to be closed

Special Correspondent

Vegetation has become extremely dry

Udhagamandalam: With dry conditions becoming a source of concern at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near here, a proposal has been sent to the government to close it from February 15.

Disclosing this to presspersons here on Wednesday, the Field Director of the Reserve Rajeev K.Srivastava said that if the proposal was approved, the reserve would remain closed till the situation improved.

Pointing out that so far this season three bush fires had occurred inside the reserve, he said that the lantena, grass etc. had become extremely dry due to the frost and lack of rain.

Stating that out of a total area of 321 sq.km., 20,000 hectares have become highly vulnerable to fire, he said that precautionary measures were being put in place.

Though the flow in the Moyar river was good, other water sources were slowly drying up.

Consequently animals, particularly elephants, had become a common sight on the roads cutting through the reserve.

In view of the situation, a Disaster Management Centre has started functioning at Theppkadu in the reserve.

Pointing out that such a centre was being set up for the first time at Mudumalai, Mr.Srivastava said that at places like Kakkanullah and Thorappalli there would be satellite centres manned by anti-poaching watchers.

The centres will be well-equipped to deal with emergencies.

The Bharath Sanchar Nigam Limited has been asked to provide a toll free number at Theppakadu.

Fire watchers will be on round the clock duty at various points including Morgan Betta, Upper Kargudi, Chikhallah.

The disaster management centre will keep track of the movement of wildlife staff in order to ensure that they moved swiftly to areas affected by fire.

There would also be inter-state coordination and highway patrolling.

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