CHENNAI: The State government’s plan to build a medical college in the Niligiris has received in-principle approval from the Union environment ministry. The regional empowered committee of the Central ministry has accorded stage-1 nod to build the facility inside the ecologically sensitive Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.
A decision in this regard was made at a meeting held on April 17 at the ministry’s regional office in Chennai. A total of 25 acres of forest land would be diverted for the purpose. The committee, while recommending the approval, has set seven specific conditions.
No tree of spontaneous growth shall be felled and no cutting shall be carried out without prior approval of the Hill Area Conservation Authority. “Felling of trees with more than 60 cm girth may be avoided and translocating of trees may be carried out wherever possible.” No residential constructions shall be built on the diverted forest.
In case any dispute arises over the land considered for diversion or over the structures claimed to be built by Hindustan Photo Films Limited (HPFL), which are existing within the forest area proposed for diversion, the State government shall take full responsibility and resolve the disputes appropriately, the committee said.
Government sources told TNIE that nine structures build by the HPFL are situated in the forest land proposed to be diverted and they are free of any occupancy. “The Nilgiris district collector, in a letter dated February 19 this year, has submitted to the committee that the entire extent of 292.71 acres of land previously given to the HPFL has been resumed and handed over to the forest department,” sources said.