Madurai: Madras High Court bench today directed Principal Secretary,forest and environment and Principal Chief Conservator of forests to visit Kodaikanal and Palani Hills and submit a report on a petition seeking a direction to the government to suggest ways to remove the wattle and eucalyptus menace and rejuvenate Shola and other forests in the state.
Justices E Sudhakar and V M Velumani gave the direction on a petition by one Saravanan, who contended that wild animals, including elephants,stray into human settlements in these regions due to thick wattle growth and sought a direction to the government to appoint a committee to study the menace.
The petitioner submitted that wattle growth not only dried up water holes, but destroyed the beautiful grassland and shola trees. They also blocked the elephant corridor and prevented animals from going through the forest areas.
In Kodaikanal alone 22000 hectares of Shola forests had been destroyed by wattle, acacia, eucalyptus and other exotic plants. Till 2009, they were cleared by the forest department at specific intervals. But from 2010 government had decided not to remove them.
In the last three years wattle had spread across thousands of acres. The precious shola had been replaced by fast growing commercial exotics like eucalyptus and wattle. Evergreen forests were also lost to the wattle, the petitioner said adding they posed a serious threat to wild life and native plants.