Nilgiris – being ‘gang raped’?

The Nilgiri Hills, a small district of Tamil Nadu state in Southern India, is known as ‘Nakku Betta’ to the natives !  Seeing,on a daily basis and as a native, the relentless ‘gang raping’ of his beautiful Mother Nature’s gift and ‘Paradise on earth’,  my heart bleeds at the helpless nature [pun intended] of the catch 22 situation.

No sustainable or reasonable price for green tea to encourage the small planters, mainly around the hattis [Badaga hamlets] to retain and maintain the tea estates, high and unbelievable price offered by land sharks that is too tempting to reject, forced to forgo the land, literally at knife point by political bigwigs through their benamis, a totally unresponsive district administration, a ‘kumbakarna’ legal system that is sleeping ‘forever’.

Frustrating to say the least !- Wg.Cdr. JP

Eco-Focus on Nilgiris

Dharmalingam Venugopal
[dharmalingamvenu@gmail.com]/ Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri
Thirty years ago when the Nilgiris was under multiple pressure (tourism, urbanization, commercialization, immigration and tea boom) I organized the first ever meet on Eco-Focus on Nilgiris at Madras.
It took me more than six months to get all the important people together. Environmental awareness was just beginning in India and there was not much activism in Tamil Nadu.
Organised on April 18, 1987, the participants included Late Shri V Karthikeyan, former Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, Late Dr. B B Sundaresan, then Vice-Chancellor of Madras University, Shri B Vijayaraghavan, then Chairman of TNEB, Late Shri S Kondas, then Chief Conservator of Forests and Late Shri R Radcliffe, conservationist, Late Shri M S Appa Rao, former Chairman of Hindustan Photo Films, Prof J Ramachandran, former Vice- Chancellor of Madurai-Kamaraj University, Late Prof. T N V Rao, Retd. Professor of History, Presidency College, Dr. K N George, Director of Madras School of Social Work, Late Prof D. Kamala Kannan, former Dy. Director of Collegiate Education, Prof. A Mahadevan, Director, University of Madras, Late Shri E R C Davidar, renowned wildlife expert, Late Shri V J Rajan, Hon Secy., Madras Naturalists Society, Mrs Tara Murali, Architect, Shri K Padmanabhan, Jt Secretary, MCCI and Late Shri H Nanjundan, Secretary Badaga Association of Madras.
It was the first meeting of its kind. Many of its recommendations were implemented by the government subsequently which significantly slowed down the degradation and promoted regeneration and rehabilitation. Some of more important recommendations were:
·         Call to set up a Nilgiri Development Authority which was followed by the Master Plan and the Hill Area Conservation Authority.
·         Call for a total ban on clear felling of natural forest was implemented.
·         Call for degraded forests, particularly in catchment areas, to be afforested was implemented.
·         Call to stop further conversion of forest into plantations was implemented.
·         Call to stop extension of monoculture in tree plantations was followed by a ban on fresh plantation of eucalyptus.
·         Call for re-classification of Forest and Revenue lands was followed up. .
·         Call for a moratorium on all construction of a commercial nature till civic amenities were augmented was implemented as soon as Late CM came to power in 1991.
·         Call for corridors of movement for wildlife was implemented.
Eco-Focus on Nilgiris 2017
Thirty years on, the current situation in the Nilgiris has strong similarities with the dark forces of the 1980s. Rampant commercialization and urbanization, indiscriminate constructions and land use, tourism explosion, invasion of invasive plants, landslides, aging and inadequate infrastructure and widespread public and government apathy.
The need for a comprehensive New Eco-Focus on Nilgiris is overdue. Concerned and informed individuals, NGOs, public interest groups, community organizations should heed the warnings and take the call.
Some responses:
Munuswamy Sathyamoorthi , <sathy.ootyhindu@gmail.com>
No one can deny your efforts in Saving Niligiris, the master plan is dead now ,the days of 1987 are gone, there is no law of the land working here, you can construct buildings at your will any where in Nilgiris “bribe” is the only thing you have to give and do wonders of destruction in NIligiris.

I happen to go to Selas village where a huge construction of cottages is going on, the area is agriculture land which has tea plantation in it( the Madras high court has banned construction in agriland); a private bridge is been built across the Kattery river, more than 10 hairpin bends of road are been developed. When asked about this to a top offical in Coonoor, this was this answer ” they have dug the road manually without using a earthmover”, To everyones surprise the land promoter has managed to get the permission to construct the cottages(which is 100% illegal).A massive illegal construction is made legal.

This is just an example of how laws are flouted ou. There is no SAVE NILIGIRI its SHAVE NILIGIRI. its all gone nothing is left any more to distruct, i lost hope ,Pollution , illegal constrution, uncontrollable Tourists, irresponsible Agriculture, useless conservationists and Wildlife NGS,because of water pollution elephants are dying by drinking water from Moyar river, every one in Niligiris knows which industry in Niligiris is polluting Mayor but none are opening the mouth, The Niligiri Heaven is now a Dreadful HELL.

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Kamala
Your earnestly genuine and pioneering efforts in preventive management since 1987 are commendable and noteworthy. You are the loyal sentinel who is not only taking the prodigious effort of  hastening to heal the damage, as also to disseminate the right information of the continuing catastrophes crashing around us each day.

Achievements cannot be allowed to remain as milestones vis-a-vis Sathymoorthy’s smouldering hard look at the perdition we are witnessing around us.  Sathyamoorthy the true Nilgirite at heart and soul has in swift strokes delienated the gorgon that the Queen of Hills is being transformed into.  No curse this.  This is reprehensible apathy on the part of just about everybody.  The gainers are ‘they’  the unscrupulous few and the complete losers are ‘we’ the wailing many !!

Great Sathyamoorthy.  Your stark lines should send shivers through the District.  They are foreboding of a fatalistic future of a place that is already in the ‘once-upon-a-time’ refrain.

Do something. Am with you all. In distress.
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Raminder Chowdhary
Regret to state that comments made by Satyamoorthy, Solomon & Kamala do reflect the reality across Nilgiris. The hills are being “gang raped” (as aptly put by a friend) and we all – the administration, civil society, ecologists & others are either directly responsible or mere by standers.
The problem is known and been around for a couple of decades at-least. Nilgiris is in ICU and quite ready to be moved into “palliative care”………. At this terminal stage, we can ill-afford more conferences, workshops, seminars – but rather hard hitting, old styled legal action.

If not us, who….If not now, when

Are there not amongst us a handful of truly Nilgiris loving, Self-less & committed women & men who are willing to come together without any personal agenda?? A Million Dollar question……you must be wondering

If there are… then this A team supported by a crack legal cell and armed with evidence from a Land Cover Change study showing the “rape” of Nilgiri hills from 1970’s till date – could be a great starting point.

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