RAMESWARAM: More than two decades after India's former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi had inaugurated the ‘Nehru Centenary Forest Ecological Farms’, popularly known as ‘Nehru centenary park’, as part of conservation efforts to protect and preserve flora and fauna in this pilgrim island, the park is now in shambles.
Work on the ‘Nehru centenary park’, a project taken up on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Forest department and which was also aimed at boosting domestic tourism, was taken up in 1987 and a scenic green belt was ready by October 1988.
The ecological park is situated near the hillock ‘Gandhamadhanaparvatham' in this island, a spot popular among visitors and pilgrims for what is believed to be the footprints in stone of Lord Rama, when he visited here on way to Sri Lanka in the epic 'Ramayana’, to fight Ravanna to redeem his wife Sita Devi.
After the late Rajiv Gandhi had formally inaugurated the project, this lung-space in the pilgrim-island began to attract lot of birds, besides peacocks and the like, says Sudalai, a local resident here. The approach road was well paved with concrete and it was also connected as a link road to the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, which enabled easy access to pilgrims as well to come and relax in this park. The facility was also welcomed by morning walkers as this stretch was ideal for the daily constitutional for many locals, said Bose, a regular morning walker.
But sadly, in recent years the park fell into disuse out of sheer neglect and absence of any proper maintenance work by the local authorities. Funds were not being released for the Nehru centenary park's upkeep that it now looks pathetic and people unable to use the facility, the locals regretted. They appealed to the authorities to revive the ecological park both in the interests of tourists and the swelling pilgrims....