Sunday, October 10, 2010

Forest Department plans to upgrade Amirthi zoo

Sunday, Oct 10, 2010

VELLORE: The Forest Department has planned to upgrade the mini zoo in the Amirthi forests in the Vellore Forest Division into a small zoo at a total cost of Rs.19 crore over a period of five years, C. Rajendran, Collector of Vellore said on Friday.

Speaking at the Wildlife Week celebrations organised by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department at Voorhees College here, Mr. Rajendran said that the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had approved the upgradation of the mini zoo. The department had sent detailed financial estimates to the CZA, which was expected to release the funds in phases. It had started all preliminary works connected to the upgradation. The move would facilitate the caging of wild animals including tigers, bears, panthers and deer, Mr. Rajendran said.

In the past, human beings destroyed forests for selfish interests. This led to destruction of flora and fauna in the recent times. Forest area constituted 28 to 29 per cent of the total land area in Vellore district. Mr. Rajendran said requested people to plant more tree saplings to maintain ecological balance and ensure welfare of society and the country.

Against a target of planting eight lakh saplings under the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project (TAP) in Vellore district this year, 7.6 lakh saplings had been planted. Against a target of planting two lakh saplings under the National Forest Development Programme in Vellore district, 75,000 had so far been planted. The department planned to promote the cultivation of 2.07 lakh trees under the scheme of encouraging the planting of forest trees in private land. Against a target of planting 30,000 forest trees in rain-fed land, 15,025 saplings were to be planted this year alone, and of this, over 9,000 tree saplings had been planted, Mr. Rajendran said.

A.V. Venkatachalam, Conservator of Forests, Vellore Circle, said that thick forests induced good rainfall resulting in filling of waterbodies. But, efforts made to cut trees or extract groundwater in the forest areas resulted in drying up of the waterbodies, leading to the phenomenon of wild animals straying into agricultural land in search of water and destroying crops in the process. He requested farmers to cultivate crops, which would not be eaten by wild animals so that they could save their crops from damage.

H.M. Jayaram, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Vellore Range, said that the phenomenon of rising temperature was a direct result of denudation of forests. It was, therefore, necessary to protect trees. T.S. Anbu, Superintendent of Police, Vellore, said that wild animals and forests could survive without human beings, but the latter could not survive without the help of the former. He wanted more trees to be planted in the urban areas to maintain ecological balance.

T.V. Manjunatha, District Forest Officer, Vellore Division, said that the Forest Department had sent detailed estimates for Rs. 9 crore to the CZA for being released this year for the upgradation of the mini zoo in Amirthi into a small zoo. N. Aruljothi Arasan, Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency, A. Arulappan, Bursar of Voorhees College, and S. Ramesh Kumar Jain, District Fire Prevention Warden, spoke.

The Collector and the DIG of Police distributed prizes to students who won inter-school and inter-collegiate competitions conducted in connection with the celebrations. They also distributed certificates of merit to 90 Forest Department officials comprising 65 in Vellore division and 25 in Tirupattur division for their outstanding work in forest protection and related activities.