Kerala weighing Neelakurinji sanctuary

Kerala weighing Neelakurinji sanctuary
Highlights

The Kerala government on Thursday decided to conduct a study on a proposed sanctuary in hilly Idukki aimed at protecting its biodiversity, especially the once-in-12 years blooming \'Neelakurinji\' flower and allay fears of locals over the project. Neelakurinji is a purplish-blue flower which blooms only once in 12 years in Munnar in Idukki district and the blossoming attracts hordes of tourists and

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Thursday decided to conduct a study on a proposed sanctuary in hilly Idukki aimed at protecting its biodiversity, especially the once-in-12 years blooming 'Neelakurinji' flower and allay fears of locals over the project. Neelakurinji is a purplish-blue flower which blooms only once in 12 years in Munnar in Idukki district and the blossoming attracts hordes of tourists and nature enthusiasts from the state and outside.

The decision to conduct the scientific study comes at a time when Idukki is gearing up for another blooming season of 'Neelakurinji', whose botanical name is "Strobilanthes Kunthiana" in July-October next year. At least eight lakh tourists are expected to arrive in the resort town for the forthcoming season. The 'Neelakurinji Sanctuary' is proposed in a 3,200-hectare parcel of land in Munnar, which is part of biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats.

A high-level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, entrusted Revenue Secretary P H Kurien with the task of carrying out the study on the status of populated areas, institutions and religious centres that fall within the territory of the proposed sanctuary, an official statement said. He was also asked to submit recommendations on fixing the boundaries for evacuating people to set up the sanctuary, the notification for which was issued by the state government in 2006.

The meeting also decided to initiate urgent steps to allay concerns of local people over the proposed sanctuary and address their grievances. Vijayan said a scientific study, to be jointly carried out by Revenue and Forest officials, was necessary as the initial notification was issued without carrying out any proper research and to ease the concerns of people.

"Neelakurinji is Kerala's asset. A park is necessary to protect it. At the same time, the concerns of people should also be settled," the Chief Minister said. Further actions regarding the setting up of the sanctuary should be carried out with the support and participation of local people, he said. For this, a meeting of people's representatives would be held in Munnar soon. The Revenue and Forest ministers and officials of both departments would also participate in it, the release added.

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