Plan to shift horse racing track in Nilgiris faces more opposition
Conservationists are also against building a parking lot on race club premises
A section of conservationists and Badaga community leaders voiced its opposition to the plan to shift the horse racing track in Udhagamandalam to Nedugula near Kotagiri and construct a vehicle parking lot on the premises of the existing Madras Race Club in the hill town.
On Sunday, a group of villagers blocked vehicles of Revenue Department officials who had gone to inspect the alternative site for the horse race track.
On Monday some conservationists contended that setting up a parking lot in the race course would lead to destruction of the only remaining wetland in the town. Former MLA and Young Badaga Association president K. Ramachandran felt that the land earmarked by the district administration for the race track was completely unsuitable for the purpose. The local community would vehemently oppose the setting up of a race track there, he said.
“There is the Hethai Amman temple in Kadaikambatti, a school and a playground.
The Badagas living here will oppose any plans to divert our ancestral lands for setting up a race track here,” said Mr. Ramachandran. He plans to submit a petition to the Ddistrict Collector urging her to reconsider the location for the race track.
“We don’t have any problems with the setting up of the parking lot, but the district administration should heed the wishes of the local community, who unanimously oppose the relocation to the current proposed site,” he said.
The Nilgiri Documentation Center (NDC) honorary director Venugopal Dharmalingam was of the view that the suggestion of the district administration to allot an alternative site for the Madras Race Club to conduct the Ootacamund horse racing “is highly regrettable, misleading and insensitive.” He urged the district administration to withdraw the suggestion made to the Madras High Court in view of the “sacredness” of the site and the “feelings of the Badaga community.”
Meanwhile, some local activists expressed displeasure over the prospect of a portion of the race course being turned into a parking lot.
G Janardhanan, president of the Ooty Public Awareness Association, said: “While the parking lot is said to come up on only 1.6 acres, it is well-known that politicians have long had one eye on developing the race course and concretising it. It is extremely sad that the wetland in Udhagamandalam, along with the few others, is going to disappear in the coming years.” According to him, there were alternative sites in Udhagamandalam where parking lots can be established.