Coimbatore: Elephant Pongal enthrals tourists at Top Slip

In view of celebration, elephant safari was suspended for a day

Pollachi: Feeding of trained 16 kumki elephants at the Elephant Pongal celebrations proved to be a thrilling experience for hundreds of tourists who thronged Top Slip in Anaimalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) on Saturday.

JUMBO LINE UP: Pachyderms at the Top Slip reception in Anaimalai Tiger Reserve, near Pollachi, on Saturday for the Elephant Pongal celebration. — Photo: Special Arrangement

Coinciding with the Pongal celebrations and week-end holiday, the forest officials organised the celebrations wherein of the 21 camp elephants, 16 including three calves of the Forest Department took part. The elephants were given a bath at the Kozhikamudhi and Varagliyar elephant camps and the pachyderms that had sandal and kumkum on their forehead were brought to the reception area in Top Slip.

The pachyderms accompanied by the mahouts and cavadis (handlers), enthralled hundreds of tourists. A conservationist and keen wildlife enthusiast Saravanan had sponsored the Elephant Pongal.

Besides pongal, sugarcane and other items for the celebration, he had sponsored new uniform for the mahouts and tribal watchers. Field Director of ATR H. Basuvaraju, Range Officer S. Thangaraj Paneerselvam and Forest Veterinarian N.S. Manoharan took part.

In view of the celebration, the elephant safari in the sanctuary was suspended for a day to give rest to the pachyderms.

Officials along with tourists offered pongal, jaggery, coconut, sugarcane and banana to the elephants.

From THE HINDU

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Coimbatore: ‘Elephant Pongal’ at Top Slip

Coimbatore: The officials of the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) of the Forest Department have planned to conduct “elephant pongal” on Saturday (January 16) at Top Slip, near Pollachi.

Indiragandhi wild life sanctuary - Top Slip - Elephant Pongal Festival

Field Director of the ATR H. Basuvaraju said that about 21 elephants would be taken out in a procession and fed with pongal. The tourists would get an opportunity to have a close glimpse of the elephants.

The objective is to generate awareness among the tourists on the need to conserve these population of pachyderms as well by explaining their role in the eco-system.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Unplanned development blamed for landslides

Udhagamandalam: With development which was incompatible with the carrying capacity of the hills going unchecked for several years, a people’s initiative has come into being at Kotagiri to check the disastrous trend.

Speaking to ‘The Hindu’ here on Wednesday, the Convener of the initiative named Nature’s Eyelids Environment Protection Committee, M.L. Alphonse Raj, said that it would play a proactive role in protecting the environment and opposing activities which were environmentally hazardous.

Pointing out that it will soon become a district-level committee, he said that unplanned development was the main reason for the landslides that occurred in various parts of the Nilgiris recently.

Adverting to resolutions passed at a recent meeting of the Committee, he said that as per the order of the High Court unauthorised structures should be removed forthwith by the district administration.

A law should be enacted to prevent misuse of farm lands. A ban should be imposed on construction of multi-storied buildings, resorts, palatial bungalows etc. A survey of commercial buildings near forest areas should be conducted and those which affected the privacy of wild animals should be closed. The people should adhere to rules while constructing buildings and the area should not exceed five cents. Constructions should not be allowed on steep slopes.

All encroachments along water courses should be removed and steps should be taken to prevent the practice of blocking storm water outlets with cement. Dams, lakes and checkdams should be desilted periodically.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Need to expedite restoration works on Ooty-Coonoor road

Udhagamandalam: Life in this flood- and landslide-hit hill station will become near normal when the Ooty-Coonoor ghat road is thrown open to traffic.

With this view being shared by all in the district, all eyes are on the officials and workers of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) who are engaged in restoration works along the Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam National Highway.

Having put up with considerable hardship and inconvenience over the last three weeks, the travelling public are looking for relief and hoping that the NHAI will rise to the occasion. Commuters told The Hindu here on Tuesday that though they were sensitive to the enormity of the task confronting the NHAI, “we are finding it increasingly difficult to go about our day to day work.”

Pointing out that normal timings had been restored in the schools, they said that owing to transport difficulties the students especially those residing in places like Manthada were facing problems.

They expressed the hope that the NHAI will take up temporary restoration works on Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam road on a war-footing and throw open at least the Ooty-Coonoor stretch without delay. If not buses at least light vehicles should be allowed during the day to help the students and office goers.

D.Radhakrishnan – From THE HINDU

Ooty: Landslips put traders of Burliar in a spot

Every 15 years they are subjected to harrowing experience

Udhagamandalam: Residents of Burliar on the Mettupalayam-Ooty national highway once again found themselves in an unenviable position which has been created by the recent natural calamity.

Huge landslips triggered by heavy rain have rendered the road useless.

Consequently the residents, most of whom are small traders dependent on motorists and bus passengers for a livelihood have been forced to down shutters.

Though the Nilgiris is accessible by road from a few directions and rail from Mettupalayam, the Mettupalayam-Coonoor ghat road via Kallar and Burliar has for long been considered the main approach to the hills and it is used to a considerable extent.

Burliar has in the last fortnight been languishing on account of the road being closed.

It has been the main place for re-filling radiators before continuing the upward journey towards Udhagamandalam, for quenching a parched throat and for purchasing fruits, spices and snacks.

Drivers of many vehicles going towards Mettupalayam also stop at Burliar. A puja performed for both ascending and descending vehicles in front of a local temple is a long standing practice.

Speaking to The Hindu some of the traders said that ever since a similar natural calamity occurred a few decades ago, they have learnt to live with the apprehension that heavy rain can affect their livelihood at any time.

Pointing out that every 10 or 15 years they are subjected to a harrowing experience by landslips, they lamented that for long an alternative has eluded them.

Roadside petty vendors said that they are the worst affected.

From THE HINDU

TN rain toll rises to 71, Ooty cut off

CHENNAI: As the northeast monsoons continued to lash several parts of Tamil Nadu, the death toll due to rains rose to 71, with the Nilgiris alone accounting for 43 deaths. With sheets of water inundating Ooty, Kotagiri and Coonoor towns, the picturesque Nilgiris wore a battered look. Landslips and heavy rains claimed 29 more lives in the hill district, taking the toll in the last two days to 43.

Uprooted trees and stagnating water blocked traffic and cut off the road link between Coonoor and Ooty even as land slips triggered a trail of house collapses and human tragedies. Two senior ministers, Veerapandi S Arumugam and Pongalur N Palanisamy, and a team of officials have rushed to the hill resort to oversee rescue and relief work.

Earlier in the day, chief minister M Karunanidhi held discussions with the chief secretary and senior officials on expediting relief works.

Nilgiris collector Anand Rao V Patil told TOI that six teams of fire service personnel were undertaking rescue operations along with 170 STF and Tamil Nadu Special Police personnel. More than 700 people had been accommodated in 10 camps across the district.

“All works related to rescue and relief operations in the district are going on well,” he said.

Ooty: 13 killed in rain, landslips across Nilgiris district

Five of a family killed on national highway

Tourists advised not to visit hill district for now

Udhagamandalam: Heavy rain and landslips claimed 13 lives in various parts of the Nilgiris district on Sunday. The Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam road beyond the Lovedale junction and near Ketti was severely affected. Traffic was diverted via Kotagiri. Tourists were advised not to come to the hill district for now.

Five members of a family were killed at Manthada on the Ooty-Coonoor national highway in a landslip. The victims were Anand (28), his wife Radha (24), their children Ajit (8) and Sneha (4), and a relative, Sriraman (16). In a house collapse at Coonoor, municipal revenue inspector Abdul Pari (50) was killed.

Susheela (42) of Mel Thalaiattumund and Jayalakshmi (33) of Rosemount died when their houses collapsed in rain. Nagaraj (56), ex-president of the Thengumarahaada panchayat, died when the coracle he was using to cross a river capsized. The body of Electricity Board lineman George Irudhayaraj was found near Charing Cross. Kannan (50) of Butter Combai was killed in the rain. Two bodies at Kotagiri remain to be identified.

Sixty houses were damaged. Many trees were uprooted.

After visiting rain-hit areas, Nilgiris Collector Anandrao V. Patil told The Hindu that the administration’s focus was on rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Educational institutions remained closed on Tuesday.

Khadi Board Minister K. Ramachandran said he had telephonically informed Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi about the situation. Relief measures have been stepped up. Rs. 1 lakh each would be given to the relatives of victims. People living in places vulnerable to landslips and floods have been moved and relief materials distributed.

In the 24-hour period ending 8.30 a.m. on Monday, Coonoor recorded 363 mm of rainfall. Avalanchi had 193 mm, Kotagiri 168, Ooty 126, Ketti 125, Emerald 112, Kundah 99, Geddhai 81 and Glenmorgan 43.

From THE HINDU