Environmental concerns over planned cable car and adventure park at Udhagamandalam

Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister K Ramachandran (centre) inspecting the Dodabetta peak for the possibility of a rope car service. file | Photo Credit: M. Satyamurthy

Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister K. Ramachandran inspected the Doddabetta peak to ascertain the feasibility of a cable car project running between Doddabetta peak and Manthada.

However, concerns over the environmental impact of the projects have been raised by local conservationists.

Shri Ramachandran told reporters that the feasibility study of a cable-car system of about 1.74 km is being done. The minister also said that safe barriers are being imported and steps are also being taken to make the area safe. On this occasion, District Collector SP Amrit and Tourism Director Sandeep Nanduri and Principal Secretary Tourism Culture and Religion Department B Chandra Mohan were also present.

Shri Ramachandran also visited the factory of Hindustan Photo Films (HPF) where an adventure park is planned to be set up.

The plans have been met with mixed reactions by the government, with many conservationists concerned that the projects will affect forest areas and wildlife habitats. The defunct HPF factory is home to a variety of wildlife including Indian gaur, sambar deer, leopard and sloth bear. President of Ooty Public Awareness Association G. Janardhan said there are concerns that the cable car will also require destruction of the shola forests along the Doddabetta slopes.

Mr. Janardhan said that recent projects such as the Ooty Government Medical College and Hospital have destroyed forest habitats used by wildlife within Udhagamandalam town, and that the HPF factory and Doddabetta Peak projects will further affect the local ecology.

Nilgiri conservationist N. Mohanraj said the cable car project would be more beneficial if implemented as a mass transit system between Mettupalayam and Udhagamandalam. “The cable car may extend from Udhagamandalam to Mettupalayam. This way, fewer cars will come to Udhagamandalam and as a result, there will be fewer vehicles during the peak tourist season as well,” he said.