Makeshift helipad for PM Modi irks nature lovers

Modi will be air-borne all through his visit to Chennai except for the 36-km road journey from Mamallapuram to Thiruvidanthai and back. PTI file photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's day-long visit to Chennai on Thursday has run into yet another controversy with his chopper set to land at the cricket ground in IIT-Madras, a treasure trove of natural space that houses many endangered animals, inviting the wrath of nature lovers.

Also, a wall that separates the Adyar Cancer Institute and the Children's Park in Guindy has been demolished to allow "safe passage" for the VVIP's motorcade into the hospital, where Modi will attend a programme on Thursday afternoon, avoiding the main road.

The 'special arrangement' was worked out apparently to ensure that the PM's cavalcade does not travel on the city roads in the wake of calls by several Opposition parties to show black flags to him in protest against the delay in constitution of Cauvery Management Board (CMB).

Modi will arrive at the Chennai airport on Thursday morning from where he will take a chopper to Mamallapuram. After inaugurating the Defence Expo in Thiruvidanthai, he will land at the makeshift helipad at IIT to participate in the Adyar Cancer Institute's diamond jubilee. From there, he will fly to Chennai airport and take his special flight to New Delhi.

Modi will be air-borne all through his visit to Chennai except for the 36-km road journey from Mamallapuram to Thiruvidanthai and back.

What has left the nature lovers worried is the fact that the makeshift helipad is just metres away from the Guindy National Park, the only reserved forest in the heart of a city in the country since the landing of a helicopter would disturb the animals and could cause unimaginable stress to them. IIT is home to black bucks and many other animals that roam freely in and around the sprawling campus.

Will stress wildlife

"Landing of a chopper inside the IIT campus will definitely disturb animals and it will take a very long time for the animals to get back to normal. A makeshift helipad is just another in the long list of violations by the IIT administration. The cultural festival that the institution holds is also a violation," T Murugavel of the Madras Naturalists' Society told DH.

E Seshan, a wildlife photographer, who worked for the Zoological Survey of India, says Modi is setting a bad precedent by landing very close to a reserved forest. "Areas adjoining IIT have been classified as reserved forest and I wonder how they decided to land a chopper in the campus. It is a disastrous decision and will lead to massive stress among the wildlife," he said.

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