BARREN HILL AFFORESTATION OF TIRUMALA HILLS- A NEW APPROACHKRISHNAIAH, V. VENKATRAMAIAH AND G.V. RAMANA REDDY
Tirumala is the holy seat of Lord Venkateswara. The Tirumala hills are considered to be the sacred hoods of Adisesha (Holy Serpent) and the body extends through Ses chachalam, Erramalai and Nallamalai up to Srisailam hills. These hill ranges about a century back contained luxurious forests with hundreds of springs and water sources spread all over the area of the sacred seven hills and the nature provided a divine environment. Historical policies of felling the trees to provide fuel-wood and timber needs to the temple as well as local people of Tirumala and Tirupati, indiscriminate destruction of the forests around Tirumala occurred and the hills were rendered barren and drab. In order to re-cloth the seven hills with lush green vegetation the Forest Department of Tirumala Tirapati Devasthanamas has taken up Bioaesthetic Plan in the year 1980. Now the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanamas areas are re-clothed with luxurious vegetation except some patches, where there are sheet rocks without soil and which are not fit for any treatment in these hill ranges especially along first ghat road, while some areas not accessible to steepness of the terrain. Hardly any vegetation is noticed in these patches. As per Andhra Pradesh State Remote Sensing Application Centre, Hyderabad report the barren area in the year 1998 is 1414 Ha and in the year 2000 is 1300 Ha. These areas are not fit for any treatment. Stone terracing with cross section of 0.45 m x 0.30 m are constructed across the slope along the contour. In coarse of time it is observed that stone terracing has given tremendous effect on soil deposition and ultimately vegetation of annuals and perennials developed at the terraces. Ficus species are being planted where there are crevices in the barren rock by filling the drums with imported soil on experimental basis by using a technique and the results are encouraging. So far the above two techniques are found to be viable methods for developing greenery on barren hills and it is too early to predict the outcomes.
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