Widening girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai will destroy ecosystem – Karthikeyan Hemalatha

Arunachala Hill

Karthikeyan Hemalatha“Officials do not understand the importance of this ecosystem and are blindly cutting down trees,” said writer Kumar Ambayeran.

The Tamil Nadu government’s move to widen the girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai by felling trees would affect the ecosystem of the area, said residents on Monday.

A group of farmers and others from Tiruvannamalai were in Chennai on Monday in connection with a hearing on the issue in the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal. However, the NGT hearing didn’t take place, and it has been postponed to Thursday.

The government wants to widen the 14 km girivalam path to accommodate more pilgrims during full moon nights when the crowd is at its peak. Last week, the Thiruvannamalai collector submitted a report to the southern bench of the NGT saying only 125 trees would be cut. According to the report, every full moon night, several lakh devotees walk on a 14 km path around the [Arunachala Hill and] Arunachaleshwar Temple. Earlier, 847 trees had been identified by the highways department, out of which Arunachaleshwar Temple347 trees were required to be cut. But, after an inspection, the number was reduced to 218. Finally, it was decided to cut only 125 “non-valuable trees,” for which the revenue divisional officer granted permission.

The residents said 4 kms of the 14 kms stretch is a forest and should not be disturbed. “There are six lakes in these 4 km. They act like a reservoir and store water that drains down from the mountain and provides life to the ecology. The government wants to build a road over it, and this will destroy everything,” said K. Murugan who acted in the Tamil movie Cuckoo.

They said cutting the trees would affect the entire ecosystem. “These are naturally formed forests and each tree has its own intricate ecosystem. There are both migratory and indigenous birds that depend on these trees. Officials do not understand the importance of this ecosystem and are blindly cutting down trees,” said writer Kumar Ambayeran.

“All our medical needs are met by the forest we live in. We use naval (jamun) seeds to control our blood sugar levels and thuthuvalai (purple pea eggplant) to cure cough and cold of our children,” said E. Rajamani, a farmer. – The Times of India, 25 July 2016

» Karthikeyan Hemalatha reports for The Times of India.

Arunachala girivalam path forest area

Arunachala Girivalam Path

Girivalam Protest

Girivalam Protest

Giri pradakshina of Arunachala Hill

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