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

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Ooty: Rain fails to deter tourists

Udhagamandalam: Though a couple of weeks have passed since the curtain came down on the season in this holiday destination, the flow of tourists continues to be good.

The demand for seats on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway was good.

Stating that despite the rain 6,000 tourists visited the Government Botanical Garden on Saturday, the Assistant Director of Horticulture said that the number of tourists entering the garden ranged between 6,000 and 8,000 during weekends.

From THE HINDU

Military band espouses cause of environment Military band espouses cause of environment

Stress on need to address environment related problems without delay

Udhagamandalam: The cause of environment received a shot in the arm on Saturday with the famed band of the Wellington-based Madras Regimental Centre (MRC) joining hands with the Nilgiris Cultural Association (NCA) to commemorate the World Environment Day with a sterling performance at the Saint Joseph’s Boys All India Higher Secondary School in Coonoor.

A treat:The band of the Madras Regimental Centre performing in Coonoor on Saturday. D.Radhakrishnan

With the programme being appropriately titled ‘Enviro Culture’, not only did it underscore the need to address environment related problems without delay but also highlighted the contribution of the defence establishments in Wellington towards enriching the cosmopolitan culture of the Nilgiris.

Right from the curtain raiser ‘Vayu Shakthi’, which was a marching number, the hour-long performance of the band drew loud cheers from the hundreds of persons, who had made a bee line to the venue despite torrential rain.

About a dozen numbers followed.

Tunes with a Carnatic touch thrilled audience.

While ‘Light Cavalry’ and ‘Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja’ introduced by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose to inspire patriotism brought out the best in the band, ‘Rivers of Babylon’ and ‘Spanish Gypsy Dance’ made many tap their feet. Hindi numbers reflecting love of nature were received well.

When the troupe ended with ‘Sare Jahanse Achcha’ the audience gave a prolonged standing ovation.

Since the reputation of the band preceded the performance foreign students studying in some of the residential schools were among the audience.

The band which has won many accolades comprised members from Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshwadeep, Andaman and Nicobar.

Addressing the gathering, Chief Guest M.V.Ragunathan, Past Governor, Lions District 324 A1, urged the youth to learn from such presentations and vow to protect the environment.

NCA president P.S.Sundar stressed the need to protect the environment.

Principal of Saint Joseph’s Boys All India Higher Secondary School Babu Varghese also spoke.

From THE HINDU

Promoting conservation

Udhagamandalam: The renowned band of the Madras Regimental Centre (MRC) at Wellington near here is all set to espouse the cause of the environment.

It will present a band concert at a programme titled “Enviro Culture” which will be staged by the Nilgiri Cultural Association (NCA) at the Saint Joseph’s Boys All India Higher Secondary School in Coonoor on Saturday evening to mark the World Environment Day.

The Convener, NCA, S. Ananthakrishnan said that since it was formed in 1951 the band has been part of several prestigious occasions and won several accolades. The Band members are drawn from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar.

From THE HINDU

Boat race entertains tourists visiting Ooty

Programmes should reflect culture and lifestyle, say tourists

Udhagamandalam: The scene of action at the annual Summer Festival which is now in progress in this tourist resort shifted to the Ooty lake.

With a large number of tourists making a bee line to the venue at the far end of the town, the annual boat race was conducted in an interesting manner by the Nilgiris district administration, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation and the Department of Tourism.

The race was flagged off by the Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik.

The District Revenue Officer S.Kuppusamy distributed the prizes.

Many of the tourists interviewed by The Hindu said that more such “lively” programmes should be organized to entertain the tourists.

They were in tune with the ethos of the hill station.

Pointing out that they came to Udhagamandalam mainly to enjoy the weather and get away from the noise in the plains, they opined that programmes organized for the benefit of the visitors should reflect the culture and lifestyle of the natives.

A number of tourists participated enthusiastically in various categories of the event.

The winners:

Men’s Doubles: 1. Ganapathy and Saravana Prabhu (Trichy); 2. M.Pradeep Kannan and G.Nedumaran (Palani); 3. M.Kathiresan and M.Arun Prakash (Palani).

Women’s Doubles: 1. R.Divya and R.Suruthi (Bangalore); 2. Shivani and Shilpa (Mumbai); 3. Chithra and Sujatha (Chennai).

Couples: 1. Vinodhkumar and Sindhu (Chennai); 2. M.R.Mohan and Arulmani (Erode); 3. Gopalan and Geetha (Kochi).

From THE HINDU

Ooty: NMR weathers yet another storm

Along with local people, tourists waiting for resumption of service on the sector

Udhagamandalam: Having weathered many a storm during its long and chequered existence, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is all set to emerge triumphantly from yet another major setback.

The breathtaking sight of the toy train chugging through the hills between Coonoor and Mettupalyam which had been conspicuous by its absence for the past about six months will return soon.

Along with the local people for whom the NMR is a prized possession, the tourists are also waiting eagerly for the resumption of services on the sector.

Prized possession:The passenger train of Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udhagamandalam in the Nilgiris, is seen chugging through the Glendale Estate, near Coonoor. — File Photo: K. Ananthan

They are also hoping that the return would be marked by some announcements relating to improvement of services.

Long considered as the Pride of the Blue Mountains, the NMR, which came into being in 1899 between Mettupalayam and Coonoor and extended to Ooty in 1908 lived through many challenges which confronted it over the years including several attempts to dismantle the line on account of it being uneconomical, a major accident during the early 1980s involving a freight train and its locomotives developing technical problems frequently on account of old age.

Hence, when a major natural calamity in the form of landslides triggered by heavy rains hit the NMR, particularly on the Mettupalayam-Coonoor sector on November 8, 2009, the people here were filled with agony and apprehension but were confident that the marvel of engineering skill which had been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 would bounce back despite speculation to the contrary.

Living up to the confidence reposed in it, the Southern Railway rose to the occasion notwithstanding odds of a varied kind.

As a result, services between Ooty and Coonoor were resumed on January 5.

Soil

With the total estimated cost of restoration put at Rs. 12.45 crore, the workers guided by senior officers of the Railways had to remove over 48,000 tonnes of slipped soil from about 150 locations, rebuild two badly damaged bridges, construct a new bridge, strengthen two bridges, renew tracks over about 2 km, repair damaged rack bars at 50 places and put up retaining walls at three places apart from removing uprooted trees and setting right damaged pipelines, signals, electrical and telecommunication lines.

Among the various challenges the workers and officials of the Southern Railway had to grapple with before putting the prestigious NMR back on the rails were hostile terrain and weather, threat from wild animals and labour shortage.

D. Radhakrishnan From THE HINDU

Ooty: Action plan to combat bush fires

Udhagamandalam: An action plan has been drawn up to prevent the occurrence of bush fires during the current dry season, said the Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore, R. Kannan while speaking to presspersons here on Saturday.

Instructions have been issued to all the divisions to accord high priority to combat bush fires. He added that stringent action will be taken against people who started bush fires.

Measures

A number of steps are being taken to reduce man-elephant conflict. Pointing out that the areas affected include Coimbatore, Sathyamangalam, Sirumugai, Mettupalayam and Thadagam, he said that farmers have been requested to change agricultural practices in areas bordering the forests.

Fence

Solar fences have also been erected in places prone to such conflicts. To another query, he said that a system of de-worming wild elephants has been put in place.

When asked about the proposed public hearing with regard to the recent publication of a map of the Elephant Corridor in the Sigur Plateau of the Nilgiris district, Mr. Kannan said that so far about 150 objections have been received.

He added that along the Kallar-Jakkanarai elephant corridor some persons have offered to hand over 69 acres to the forest department.

The value of trees and land were in the process of being assessed.

From THE HINDU