Sound and light show at Meenakshi temple

Rs. 1.76 crore sanctioned for the purpose

MADURAI: Preliminary work for establishing a sound and light show at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here has commenced with North Adi Street being chosen as the location.

A sum of Rs. 1.76 crore was sanctioned for the purpose in the State budget, according to R. Padmanaban, Executive Officer.

He took charge on Thursday from R. Sudarshan, Joint Commissioner (Madurai Region), Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, who was holding additional charge.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said the show would be in English and Tamil and could be for 30 minutes. It would focus on the temple history, architecture, sculptures and its significance.

A short documentary film on the Meenakshi temple has been commissioned by the HR and CE department.

“The film would focus on the rituals and festivals being performed for the deity. As foreigners are not allowed inside sanctum sanctorum, they can learn about the rituals from this short film.

A projector would be installed inside the temple premises to show this documentary in the evening hours,” he informed.

Initiative

A similar initiative was undertaken at Sri Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, for which Mr. Padmanaban was the Thakkar before joining here. The Meenakshi temple would become second temple in the State to have a short film to be taken with Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram likely to be third.

Speaking about other works under way, he said that estimates were being prepared for constructing a marriage hall at Ellis Nagar at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.

A Rs. 23-lakh estimate for replacing cracked stones at the Veeravasantharayar Mandapam near the East Tower of the temple has been sent to the State Government.

Renovation

He said that the Rs. 40-lakh renovation work for kumbabhishekam of Muktheeswarar Temple, a sub-temple of Meenakshi Temple, would be completed in two months. Modernisation and other electrification works under way at the Thousand Pillar Hall Museum of the Meenakshi temple, for which Rs. 1.55 crore was sanctioned by the Tourism Department, were nearing completion.

The temple’s Icon Centre at Sellur, which would house all unprotected idols from in and around Madurai Region, would be completed in a month.

Contribution

While the Public Works Department, which is constructing the Centre, had contributed Rs. 28 lakh, the Meenakshi temple had pitched in Rs. 7 lakh.

From THE HINDU

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Demonstration on canopy management in old mango trees

Experts demonstrating canopy management at the Thimmapuram Nursery maintained by the Horticulture Department.

KRISHNAGIRI: A demonstration on canopy management in old mango trees was held in Thimmapuram near Kaveripattiman here.

The programme was organised by the Horticulture Department for its officers from the ranks of Joint Directors, Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors from all the districts. Israel-based agriculture scientists, experts in mango cultivation, gave an on-field demonstration to the officials at the Thimmapuram Government Nursery. The experts identified and pruned the unwanted and dead branches of the trees with the help of a fully automated hydraulic lift.

Experts Michael Moshe Roy and Mr. Cliff Love said the optimum height of the mango trees should be between 4 and 4.5 metres, as it eased the field operations and harvest. The trees should be cut up to 4-metre height and 3-metre radius and it should be left as it is for one year. Next year, 50 per cent of the trees should be cut and the rest during the second year to a height of 1.5 metre and 1.5 metre width.

The National Horticulture Board had imported the lift ‘‘AFRON SA-650 ” worth about Rs. 12 lakh from Israel to use it for demonstration across the country.

From THE HINDU

Clean Ooty campaign begins

Udhagamandalam: “This place is ours, let us keep it clean.” To drive home this message among various sections of the society in this hill station, residents of the Melkawhatty village set in motion a cleaning campaign near the Government Headquarters Hospital here on Wednesday.

It involved the removal of wild growth and litter which have over the years become ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The effort was also carried out in order to create areas suitable for forming gardens and greening the environment.

Pointing out that the volunteers belonged to an outfit called ‘Mannuga Matha’ in Badaga meaning ‘Decorating the Earth’, which came into being about four months ago, its president N.Nataraj, a retired teacher told The Hindu that their mission is to enhance awareness about the environment.

D.Radhakrishnan – From THE HINDU

Mango exhibition from today

KRISHNAGIRI: Collector V. Arun Roy has instructed the officials to construct ramp and western toilets for the differently-abled persons visiting the 18th All India Mango Exhibition to be inaugurated on Friday.

Inspecting the preparatory works at the Government Boys Higher School ground here on Wednesday, he told reporters that 30 government stalls, a stall for SHGs, a stall by women SHGs undertaking agriculture, private stalls and enhanced entertainment facilities would be provided for the public.

Special buses would be operated for the exhibition and protected drinking water would be kept ready for the visitors.

Cultural programmes by leading artistes and school children had been arranged.

P. Prabhakar, District Revenue Officer, K. Rajan, Deputy Director, Agriculture, N. Nachiappan, Personal Assistant to Collector (Agriculture), T. Manoharan, Public Relations Officer and officers from Horticulture Department accompanied the Collector.

From THE HINDU

10 lakh saplings planted in Virudhunagar

Replacement saplings available

VIRUDHUNAGAR: A total of 10,13,643 saplings were planted in Virudhunagar district during the mass plantation drive conducted on June 5.

In a statement, District Revenue Officer B. Ganesan said enumerators appointed on the day had verified and got acknowledgement from the people for having planted this many saplings.

The district administration was able to ready 2.10 lakh of coconut, 3.35 lakh of teak, 4.45 lakh of gooseberry and 84,000 of guava saplings, totalling to 11,24,000.

However, a total of 10,06,296 saplings were taken to different distribution centres in the district.

These saplings, distributed to those who had not dug the pits and not kept ready the sticks and gunny bags to make tree guards, were retrieved and distributed to others who showed interest, Mr. Ganesan said.

With lot of enthusiasm showed by the people for the drive, additional 39,000 coconut saplings brought from Dharmapuri and 20,000 saplings of neem, pungan, casuarina and teak from Sevalur nursery were distributed.

Out of the total 10,65,296 saplings distributed, the enumerators – teachers and village administrative officers – got acknowledgement from people for having planted 10,13,543.

Mr. Ganesan said that for the remaining five per cent of the saplings either the acknowledgement was not obtained from the people or could have been damaged in transit.

The DRO said that people who had failed to register their names in the initial stage, but had dug pits could get the saplings from Sevalur nursery, where another 30,000 saplings were kept ready.

Interested people may get it through the Panchayat Presidents or Village Administrative Officers or contact 04562-252804.

All the saplings planted during the drive that fail would be replaced, Mr. Ganesan said.

From THE HINDU

Malaysian company mulling Rs. 4,500 crore tourism project in Mangalore

Karnataka Tourism Department’s eco-tourism wing Jungle Lodges and Resorts planned to build seven more resorts in the State, Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy said on Thursday.

The new resorts would come up in the next two years and involved an investment of Rs. 30 crore, he told reporters after inaugurating the new office of the Jungle Lodges and Resorts here.

The Centre had sanctioned Rs. 24 crore for the project and the State would bear the remaining cost, Reddy said.

The State has received an overwhelming response to the Acqua Marine Park it proposed to set up at Mangalore for which Request for Proposal (RFP) was floated recently.

He said a Malaysia-based company had come forward to invest over Rs. 4,500 crore to set up an integrated Tourism Project in and around Mangalore on the lines of Singapore under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The department has asked the firm to present a detailed project report, he said.

From THE HINDU

Do Kerala needs eco-tourism ?

While the houseboat industry has brought a welcome source of income for the Kerala backwaters, their uncontrolled proliferation is having a dramatic impact on the fragile coastal ecosystem. Prasanam, a boatman who takes tourists through the Alappuzha backwaters on a traditional ‘kettuvallam’, explains why eco-tourism, already in some areas of Kerala, should spread throughout the region

Boatman Prasanam (left) in his traditional kettuvallam. Photograph: Lily Philipose

I have lived in Alappuzha since the day I was born. There was practically no tourism here till about the 1990s, when things started to change quickly. The backwaters became the hot spot for Kerala tourism. As boatmen we had used our thatched-roof wooden “kettuvallams” [literally meaning “stitched boat,” a traditional country boat made with wooden planks, stitched together with coir ropes, steered only with a punting pole] to transport rice. Then we realised we could make much more money by taking people to tourist resorts and spice farms.

On the whole, the tourist industry has helped boatmen. But I worry about the condition of the backwaters. Neither the tour operators or the government are paying much attention to its worsening quality.

The backwaters suffer from pollution because water hyacinths are growing so rapidly that they have taken over the waterways in some parts. The clusters of these mauve flowers make for scenic photographs but in actuality the hyacinths are choking the water.

Boatmen see how fast these plants grow from week to week, and how they disrupt the natural water flow. Once they cover the surface of the water, they block off the sunlight, and the fish and native plants below become starved of oxygen. When the plants decompose they add to the pollution and soon mosquitoes start breeding. That is the reason why there have been malaria outbreaks in some of the backwater areas.

There is a simple and natural way to get rid of the water hyacinths without using any chemicals, and many boatmen know how. If we channel the sea water to enter the backwaters for a few months, the salt kills the hyacinths and keeps the water clean and weed-free for a long time. If only people in authority would listen to us, they could easily improve the situation.

An even more serious pollution is created by the houseboat industry. The tourists come mostly for the backwater tours, so the boatmen have begun to build bigger and fancier boats. Look along the shores and you can see how many wooden hulls are being constructed this very moment.

There are about 2,000 houseboat “kettuvallams” today, and some of them are floating palaces. All have living/dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and verandas. The kitchens use kerosene stoves for cooking, and there is a generator for electricity and an outboard motor that runs on diesel. The luxurious versions even have two storeys, air-conditioned bedrooms, conference rooms, flat screens and whirlpools.

I’m all for attracting visitors to enjoy this natural beauty. Many of us have well-paid jobs because of the stream of visitors. Besides, I enjoy taking tourists on my boat, and many of them stay in touch with me from all over the world. I’ve kept all their letters and cards in this book, and I read them from time to time. I have a beautiful card from a young couple from France who were here on their honeymoon.

But I have chosen to ply the simple traditional version of the “kettuvallam” with no outboard motor and no overnight accommodation. I tell tourists who choose this kind of boat that they leave smaller footprints on the natural environment.

The tourism board is simply ignoring the environmental effect of the increasingly numerous and luxurious houseboats. The diesel from the outboard motors and the kerosene from the stoves leak into the water, and sometimes we can actually taste the kerosene in the “karimeen” [also known as pearlspot fish] that the fishermen catch here. The cooking water from the kitchens and shower and bathwater also end up as pollutants.

Remember, the backwaters are not only here for the tourists. There are village people who live on the shores, and they use the polluted water for their cooking, cleaning and washing. The tour operators of the fancy houseboats make good money, but the people in the villages whose waters get polluted don’t see any of the profits.

We know Kerala does not have many other industries that will bring us money to live well. So, yes, we want development and economic opportunity. Yes, we want to open up to tourism. But we need the kind of tourism that will not destroy the natural beauty of the backwaters that makes Kerala so attractive for travellers and for the people who have lived here all their lives.

• Prasanam was talking to Guardian Weekly reader Lily Philipose. – From Guardian UK