Activists in Tiruvannamalai opposing the move to widen the girivalam path, have decided to come together to protest against the work. Work has begun for the digging of a hole for a 12-km long drainage line along the proposed foot path.
Many activists, environmentalists, pilgrims and sadhus who are against the widening project have started to organise themselves in order to articulate the protest. They plan to form a human chain around Sonagiri forest. Omgaranandha, a Puducherry-based pontiff, expressed his views against cutting of trees openly. Several sadhus, though they don’t want to be named for now, feel bad about the project and deem it as unnecessary. On social media, there are a number of discussions that are against the project.
More than 9,900 persons signed an online petition initiated against cutting of trees along the girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai.
The petition was initiated by Vellore based Yoga teacher V. Naveen Kumar on Tuesday onchange.org, an online petitioning website. In his petition he said, the proposed widening of the girivalam road will lead to an irreplaceable loss of ancient trees, forest lands, sacred groves, and cause considerable damage to sacred tanks and temples. The farmers whose lands will be acquired for the project will also be severely affected. The project, which in some places involves re-routing of the road, will cause irreparable damage to the Sonagiri sacred grove, the only intact sacred grove on mount Arunachala.
Speaking to The Hindu he said that, “This is a pilgrimage centre and why should there be so much damage? Devotees, teachers, general public oppose it. There are about 500 comments in my petition from all over the world. Initially I planned to wait till it reached 10,000 signatures. However, since there are indications that they are going to expedite cutting of trees I decided to meet the Collector by tomorrow morning and give the petition,” he said.