MADURAI: The coastal district of Thoothukudi gained prominence after Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday hailed the active community participation to protect environment by growing, palmyra trees, which also helps in preventing soil erosion and submersion of coastal islands.
Elaborating on the drive, Collector K Senthil Raj on Sunday said that the district administration along with community participation would further take forward the plantation of palmyra, the state tree of Tamil Nadu, on Gulf of Mannar islands present along Thoothukudi coast. Palmyra seeds collected during this season have already been utilised. A team led by District Forest Officer Abhishek Tomar, Thoothukudi Division, is working on this. Palmyra plantation would effectively control erosion and aid in maintaining the good health of corals around islands.
Corals are important part of maintaining the ecosystem and the district administration is also involved in creating artificial reefs wherever erosion occurred, with the help of NABARD, the Collector said.
In the Gulf of Mannar islands, more than 25,000 palmyra nuts have been dribbled over 10 islands during the last four years. Seeds were sown by the Forest personnel with the support oflocal people, who are employed as anti-poaching watchers for protection activities.
Local people, especially Eco Development Committee (EDC) members of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT), have been regularly involved in collection of palmyrah nuts and also planting activities. EDC members have been instrumental in island conservation efforts, especially sharing information about illicit activities to prevent it. The EDC members have also been very helpful in creating awareness about the threats to the islands and how to mitigate them, he added. More importantly, Raghuvaran, Forest Range officer Thoothukudi and Venkatesh, Forest Range Officer, Ramanathapuram, have been instrumental in taking up these planting activities under the overall supervision of Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.
The results have been encouraging as shoots have come up to the height of one to two feet. Earlier, two islands fully submerged and one more island (Vaan island), which’s eroding very fast, has been restored by installation of artificial reefs.