Chennai: The government order came last month for the declaration of the Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanct uary under Section 26 A1(b) of the Wildlife (Prot ection) Act , 1972. The new sanctuary with seven r
Chennai: The government order came last month for the declaration of the Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanct uary under Section 26 A1(b) of the Wildlife (Prot ection) Act , 1972. The new sanctuary with seven ranges would be formed with forest areas from Dindigul and Theni districts on the basis of a proposal sent by the Palani Hills Conservation Council in 1994 and accepted by the Principal Chief Conse rv ator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden. Kodaikanal has lost over 400 sq km of prime forest land in the past two decades due to the state forest department’s delay in declaring a highly polluted, hilly reserve area a wildlife sanctuary, but environmentalists are glad that it finally passed the order. The Palani Hills Conse rvation Council had sought that the 1,046 sq km area be declared a sanctuary, but the government had now declared only 608 sq km of the forest area as a sanctuary, says N. Arun Shankar, secretary of the Council. “Environmentalists are thankful to the chief minister,” he adds, “for it is only after her announcement that Kodaikanal is receiving its due.” If this had come sooner illegal buildings and unregulated touri sm could have been curbed, he notes. Though the forest department notified the hilly terrain as a wildlife sanctuary, it is yet to come out with solutions related to issues like tourism, illegal constructions and water pollution which pose a serious threat to the ecology. Another serious loophole, the greens pinpoint, is the omission of Berijam and Mannavanur lake from the sanctuary map. “These are vital watering holes for the animals and their exclusion as tourist spots is certainly a setback for the new sanctuary,” says K.V.R.K. Thiru naran, founder, the Nature Trust.