Ponnambalamedu comes under Periyar Tiger Reserve

P T Mohanan Pillai
Jan 28, 2012 at 11:50am IST

PATHANMATHITTA: Ponnambalamedu, the ‘moolasthanam’ of Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple where the makaravilakku is witnessed, has come under the Periyar Tiger Reserve with all the restrictions.
With the inclusion of Ponnambalamedu under the PTR, an additional 148 sq km of evergreen forest was brought under the tiger reserve, sources said. The handing over of the official documents in this connection took place at a high-level meeting held at Gavi on January 25, sources said.
The crucial meeting was attended by the field director of Project Tiger, the chief conservator of forests, Kollam, the divisional forest officer, Ranni and deputy director of Periyar division (east) and deputy director of Periyar division (west).
With the widening of the PTR area, important locations such as Anathode, Kochu Pampa and Pachakanam will come under the purview of restrictions, sources said. If the stringent rules under the tiger reserve are implemented, the controversial makaravilakku darsan for the lakhs of pilgrims on the makaraviakku day from Sabarimala will come under shadow.
Under the new tiger reserve rules, people will be allowed through the restricted area under PTR, including Ponnambalamedu, only during the day time, sources said.  When stricter rules under PTR are implemented, the fate of the Gavi Eco-Tourism Centre will face uncertainty.  The tourist flow to the Gavi tourism project will be restricted to  day time and a ban will be imposed during night stay at the dormitory at Gavi managed by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation, the sources said.
Lankan Tamil Families at Gavi Face Uncertainty
The other important factor that face uncertainty would be the future of the 300-odd families living in Gavi under the Indo-Sri Lankan rehabilitation programme of 1978.   Though the decision on the inclusion of  Ponnambalamedu under PTR was implemented without any hitch, the package for the relocation and rehabilitation of Lankan repatriates in an area of 1,045 hectares at Gavi, which forms part of the enlarged area under PTR,  is yet to be taken up.

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