Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister, K. Ramachandran, inspected the Doddabetta Peak to ascertain the feasibility of a cable car project running between Doddabetta Peak and Manthada.
However, concerns over the environmental impact of the projects have been raised by local conservationists.
Mr. Ramachandran told presspersons that the feasibility for a cable-car system of around 1.74 km was being studied. The Minister also said that safer barriers are being imported and that steps to make the area safer are also being undertaken. District collector, S.P.Amrith and Director of tourism, Sandeep Nanduri and B. Chandra Mohan, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Culture, and Religious Endowments Department were also present.
Mr. Ramachandran also visited the Hindustan Photo Films (HPF) factory where there are plans to build an adventure park.
The plans by the government have been met with mixed reactions with many conservationists worried that the projects will affect forest areas and wildlife habitats. The defunct HPF factory is home to a variety of wildlife, including Indian gaur, Sambar deer, leopards and sloth bear. There are concerns that the cable car will also necessitate destroying Shola forests along the Doddabetta slopes, said G. Janardhanan, President of the Ooty Public Awareness Association.
Mr. Janardhanan said that recent projects like the Ooty Government Medical College and Hospital had destroyed forest habitats used by wildlife within Udhagamandalam town, and that the projects in the HPF factory and the Doddabetta Peak would further impact local ecology.
N. Mohanraj, a Nilgiris-based conservationist, said the cable car project would be more beneficial if it was to be implemented as a mass transit system between Mettupalayam and Udhagamandalam. “The cable car could extend to Mettupalayam from Udhagamandalam. This way, there would be fewer cars coming to Udhagamandalam and as a consequence, fewer vehicles even during the peak tourist season,” he said.