Tiger reserve to rejuvenate Vaigai

DC | PRAMILA KRISHNAN
Published Aug 24, 2014, 10:56 am IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 9:57 am IST
Megamalai will soon have a tiger reserve proposed by Union ministry
Picture used for representational purpose. (Photo: PTI/File)
 Picture used for representational purpose. (Photo: PTI/File)
Megamalai (Theni): The rejuvenation of a river lies in converting a mountain range into a tiger reserve. Is there a sense of disconnect in the idea? Not really, assure forest department officials and environmental experts. The officials and experts explain that the Vaigai river, which originates in Megamalai, the lovely mountain range near Srivilliputhur, will become bountiful if a tiger reserve is declared there as this will prevent denudation of forest cover.
 
Megamalai will soon have a tiger reserve if the Union environment ministry’s proposal goes through. Unchecked encroachments, grazing of cattle, tea plantations and cash crop cultivation in Megamalai are now posing a threat to the Vaigai. Experts point to the revival of the Thamiraparani after the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in Papanasam was opened and is a proven strategy that could be replicated to save the Vaigai.
 
Explaining the connection between Megamalai hills and the Vaigai river, environmentalist, Dr C P Rajkumar, said, “The shola grasslands found in Megamalai do the work of collecting rainwater, preserving it and releasing it in a gradual manner. The water flow from grasslands transforms into springs and finally takes the shape of a river.
 
Encroachments in and around Megamalai hills have ruined the forest cover and that resulted in decrease of water flow into the Vaigai. Shola grasslands cannot be recreated once they are depleted.” He said it’s high time encroachments were cleared to improve the forest cover in Megamalai to give life to the Vaigai. “SMTR is a last ditch effort to save the Vaigai, the major source of water for the southern districts,” he told DC.
 
D. Venkatesh, District Forest Officer, Kodaikanal, vouches for the strategy of tiger reserve helping in the revival of a river. “KMTR became operational in 1989. I worked as a deputy director and wild life warden KMTR from 2006 to 2012. I conducted a study in the villages close to KMTR to know the impact of the tiger reserve on the neighbourhood.
 
Several villagers said they have stopped entering the forests and no longer indulge in illegal tree felling. An elderly person recorded that water flow in the Thamiraparani has increased after the launch of KMTR. He recollected that the Thamiraparani, now a perennial, flowed only for eight months during the 1980s. I understood that conservation measures and improved vegetation in KMTR has increased the water flow,” he said.
 
Taking the cue from the villager, Venkatesh collected data on water supply to dams close to KMTR and rainfall in the district. “As per statistics, from 1946 to 1990, the Karayar dam annually received 13,000 cusecs of water. Whereas, from 1990 to till date, the average annual water flow has become 23,000 cusecs. In the case of Manimuthar dam, the average temperature in the neighbourhood used to be 30 degrees Celsius two decades ago. Now there is a dip of 1.5 degrees Celsius. There is a change in the micro climate in these neighbourhoods because of KMTR,” he said.
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Location: Tamil Nadu




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