Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Breaking News: New Fence will Block Arunachala’s Inner Path

June 12, 2012

Arunachala’s Inner Path is a precious resource. This quiet path is used by those who want the peace of Arunachala, which is not available on the road route, and is used as a Pradakshina route by Westerners and Indians alike. The Inner Path on the north side of Arunachala has been under attack now for some time, in spite of the fact that it is said to be protected by the government.

About three years ago, a large area was enclosed with a barbwire fence and all the natural plants and trees bulldozed. A ‘watchman’s house’ was built on this property, near a small tank on the Inner Path that we call the “Frog Pond.” We were told that the person who erected the fence had farming rights to this property, due to farming done by his grandfather long ago.  After installing the fence, the “owner” first tried to rent the property. Now there is a fruit orchard started on this land. This man was careful, though, when he built his fence, and he did not block the Inner Path (though the route he left in place floods when it rains, making it unwalkable). A short ‘bypass path’ was created at that time by some people who love Arunachala , to get walkers away from the disruption of the fence, and so they did not have to walk through the water when it rains.

Last year in a nearby area, a compound was built with several houses. These are inhabited now.  We thought that this is not legal. Near that compound, the Inner Path was again disrupted in a major way when the authorities had a huge new water catchment basin dug out of the existing hill. Where the Inner Path emerged from the shade into the wide open field on the northwest side of Arunachala, now there is a 4 meter high berm. Walkers must climb up onto this berm and walk for about 60 meters before climbing off it to continue on the Inner Path.

Finally, very recently, posts for another fence were dug in. These posts, when the barbed wire is added, will completely block the Inner Path. This new encroacher did not have to put the fence where he did. He could have chosen to put it a few feet away and leave the Inner Path alone, but he did not. Unless something is done, the Inner Path will be blocked and unwalkable in this place.

Well, a few days ago, I got some help from some Indian friends. They went and checked out existing paths and think they found a route for another bypass path. Work on this path started this morning. When complete, it will provide a new route for this section of the Inner Path, closer to Parvati Hill, and shielded from the view of the disruption of the new fences and whatever will happen after the fence is completed.

This map shows the general area.  It is between Parvati Hill, on the West end of Arunachala, and Adi Annamalai.

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Here is a close up view. The new bypass path will be about 1/2 km long, and will begin right after the new water catchment tank.

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Here is the start of the new fence. You can see “The Elephant” on the north side of Arunachala in the background. The slope of Parvati Hill is to the right.  This part of the fence will entirely block the Inner Path.

 

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Then for a short section the posts are on the other side of the Inner Path.

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Then in the middle of the path.

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Then next to it.

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Then, again, blocking it, where the path will be behind the coming fence.

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There is not a good place to put a path next to the old one.

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Here is Parvati Hill from this area of the Inner Path.

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You can see where this new fence will meet the existing barbed wire fence, blocking the Inner Path. Why did he have to put it where he did? I think he is trying to stake out his “property rights” in complete disregard for the Inner Path which has been here for decades and walked by thousands of people.

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All these posts are located where they will block the path.

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I assume that the trees and bushes here will also be removed. Who needs a bunch of trees and plants?

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At 5 AM this morning we walked to the place of the new path.

The men started working. Clipping plants out of the route is one big task.

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Some are too big to clip with pruning shears, which is why one man has a saw.

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Rocks have to be moved out of the path.

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Thorny bushes are sawed down.

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Sometimes the bushes are big enough that cutting them out of the way is a two-man job.

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Cut down, the bush needs to be carried out of the way. By the end of the day I expect that both men will be covered with small cuts and scratches. They are happy, though, to do this work for Arunachala. For them this kind of work is a blessing.

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This is a first look at what the final path might look like.

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It will be quiet and secluded, and closer to Parvati Hill, close enough that it gives a different feeling than before.

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The start of the path will be here, at the bottom of dirt “steps” that come down from the dirt berm that creates the water catchment tank. The path will be in the middle of the bushes past the area now cleared when the tank was built. It will be well marked, so a newcomer should not miss it.

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This is what it looks like from the top of the berm.

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And if people want, they can walk through the catchment tank without ever going up on the berm. This tank is not in a very good place, I think, to actually catch much water, so you will be able to walk though it, as a short cut. The new path is just past the other end of this tank.

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Action was taken now, so that the Inner Path will not be blocked. If there is any influence that any of you have with the Tiruvannamalai District Collector (or even higher up in government), please get the message out, “Protect the Inner Path.” This is a precious resource now, and its value will only grow in the coming years. People–Westerners and Indians–come to Tiruvannamalai to be with Arunachala. For some, this Inner Path is vital, the way that they can receive most what Arunachala has to give. We must protect it now and for the future.


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