Saturday, September 20, 2014

Plan to Construct Helipad Threatens Blackbuck Habitat in Tamil Nadu's Guindy National Park

A 30-acre polo ground in Guindy National Park which is said to be prime blackbuck habitat is under threat of a recently proposed plan to construct a helipad.

It has recently been reported that a 30-acre polo ground in Tamil Nadu's Guindy National Park is under threat due to a plan to construct a helipad. A senior forest officer indicated that officials at Raj Bhavan intend on constructing a helipad, despite protests from forest department officials. He further added that the proposed construction site for the helipad is within 200 meters of blackbuck habitat and therefore it would not be recommended to build a helipad. Another forest officer added that this was not the first time such an idea is being implemented. In September 1998, the polo ground area was cleared of bushes to build a helipad to aid the landing of former Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee. However, forest officers were rigid in their decision to not permit the construction of the helipad and the initiative was cancelled. Instead, a helipad was built temporarily inside Anna University. Naturalists, on condition of obscurity, indicated that authorities could establish a long-lasting helipad at Anna University. They further added that many open areas in Tamil Nadu that were once home to blackbucks have been converted to urban environments and Guindy National Park is one of the last remaining blackbuck habitats in Tamil Nadu.

The idea of constructing a helipad or any major man-made structure in an area that is prime habitat for wildlife is strictly frowned upon. The proposed site of creating a helipad in Guindy National Park has been a primary stronghold of blackbuck whose habitat has diminished throughout much of Tamil Nadu and is limited to only a handful of places. In addition to Guindy National Park, the blackbuck is found in Point Calimere, Sathyamangalam, and Vallanadu Wildlife Sanctuaries. If the initiative of helipad construction is further pushed, then the population of Guindy National Park's blackbucks will be under siege resulting in the species becoming lost forever. This is why it is extremely crucial to consider other areas in Tamil Nadu where there is no evidence of wildlife presence in order to carry out any major construction project. Sixteen years ago, a helipad was built inside Anna University in order to aid the landing of former Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee. The reason was because it could not be built in the polo ground area in Guindy National Park due to the presence of blackbuck in the area. However, the establishment of the helipad must have been temporary. This is why the idea of constructing a helipad on the polo ground has sprouted once again and putting the lives of blackbuck in the area at risk. Therefore, the people behind the idea of constructing the helipad must reconsider their decision of building the helipad in Guindy National Park and look for other more suitable places like Anna University to conduct their project.

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