Horticulture farm in TN’s Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve to close to facilitate elephant movement

The Tamil Nadu horticulture department will shut down a 21-acre farm at Kallar established in 1900 to facilitate the movement of elephants through the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) following a recent order of the Madras High Court.

The court order following a visit by five judges to the area, as well after an on-the-spot study, evaluation and consultations with farmers, wildlife activists and forest officials.

C. Rajeev, Director of Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai, told IANS: “This is a good decision of the state government as Kallar is an elephant corridor and has the single largest population of Asiatic Elephants.”

The NBR is an important migratory corridor of elephants and falls in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Activists were up in arms against the functioning of this horticulture farm which has a building and sales counters.

Speaking to IANS, K.M. Pandyan, an activist and farmer at Nilgiris, said: ” The farm has several yielding crops including litchi, mangosteen, avocado, nutmeg and jackfruit. However this is an important migratory area of the elephants and the wild tuskers are straying into the human settlements mainly because the connectivity is cut.

“The shutting down of the horticulture farm will lead to a free movement for elephants and will reduce the entry of them into human areas.”

Officials from the Coimbatore Forest Division officials had already recommended the horticulture department to close the farm.

A new farm is likely to be set up at Karadu or Rasadi near Sirumugai and the 20 permanent staffers will be relocated.

While the Madras High Court has ordered the shutting down of the farm, there are a few private properties, and activists have appealed to the owners to shut down their ventures.

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