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Urging Collector M. Karunakaran to stop planting of eucalyptus trees on over 1,000 acres of land belonging to Swamy Nellaiyappar Gandhimathi Ambal Temple in Nanguneri taluk, farmers and shepherds from various villages submitted a petition stating that this move would wipe out grasslands.

The petitioners from Ramanujampudhur and Nagalkulam said Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department had given on lease 1,000 acres of land belonging to the temple to Tamil Nadu Newsprints Limited for planting eucalyptus trees, one of the raw materials for manufacturing newsprint.

“The grassland on 1,000 acre is feeding over 20,000 cattle being reared in 20 villages, including Paruththipadu, Rengasamudhram, Devendraperi, Reddiyarpatti, Nagalkulam, Perumal Nagar, Moolaikkaraipatti, Chinnamoolaikkaraipatti, Chinthamani, Ramanujampudhur and Cherankulam. If the land is given on lease to the TNPL, it will seriously affect the shepherds depending on the cattle for livelihood.

Moreover, eucalyptus trees will affect groundwater table in Nanguneri taluk, a rain-shadow region,” said the farmers. Tirunelveli MLA A.L.S. Lakshmanan, along with people of Thenkalam, Nallammalpuram, Puliyankottaram, Thenkalampudhur, Pallamadai, Pallikottai, Kuppunapuram and Alavanthankulam also submitted similar petition against the proposal.

Mr. Lakshmanan said plantain cultivated on a few hundred acres in Pazhavoor, Kondanagaram and Kallur had suffered extensive damage in the recent gale.

The move, they said, would not only wipe out grasslands but also affect the groundwater table.