OOTY: While 2018 is drawing to a close, this year is likely to be remembered as the ‘Year of Closures’, as the shutdown of two major industries and tourist resorts on the elephant corridor gave a different dimension to 2018 in the Nilgiris.
The five-decade-old famed Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company (HPF), a central PSE which dominated its field in the country, finally saw curtains coming down on its production activity, leading to closure in April. The HPF which was ailing and looking for revival failed to garner the expected support and finance.
The second major industry to close down production was Sterling Biotech Private Limited, a pharma-gelatin production company. Issues related to effluent discharge and pollution had made things tough for this five decade old company in 2018.
While the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) gave three months in the beginning of the year to install the latest zero-effluent discharge unit, the company failed to comply and this led to its closure in June 2018. However, in mid-December, time was given up to the coming January 31 to this company to use the stocked raw materials to produce pharma-gelatin and this saw the company get a brief reprieve.
In August, the sensational judgment from the Supreme Court saw nearly 39 tourist cottages on Segur Valley elephant corridor, now in the buffer zone limits of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, closed down by the district administration.
September saw the 141-year-old Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association (NWEA) and the ‘fishing hut’ run by it in the Mukurthi jungles closed down. Infighting in its members, lack of enthusiasm by the association towards conservation, ultimately led to the closure of this association, one of the oldest of its kind in the country.
October saw the closure of illegal resorts run by a private NGO in the forest near Pandalur on the Nilgiris border. Now in December, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research has recommended the closure of the Central Potato Research Station at Ooty. However, it still thrives as the State Government has appealed to the Centre for its continuance in the hills to serve farmers.
Strangely, the Ooty-Kallhatti-Mudumalai road too was closed in October for outstation vehicles after a gruesome accident involving tourists on the road.
On the positive side in January 2018, the Karnataka Horticulture department established a new garden named ‘Karnataka Siri Horticulture Garden’ spread over 38 acres on its land in the Fern Hill area in Ooty....