Hulikal in Hosanagar taluk could be the new Agumbe, known as Cherrapunji of South India. (Left in pic Hulikal Falls)
In terms of annual rainfall over the last few years, Hulikal is far ahead of Agumbe. According to the statistics of the last five years, Hulikal has recorded more rain than Agumbe except in 2008.
Environmentalists and forest officials of the region feel deforestation in Tirthahalli taluk is the major cause for the decline in rainfall. Another contributory factor is the increase in area of monoculture forest at the cost of natural flora in various parts of the taluk.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Prof B M Kumaraswamy, member of Western Ghats Task Force, said planting of acacia, eucalyptus and other trees at the cost of natural forest in various parts of Tirthahalli taluk by the Mysore Paper Mill (MPM) has had disastrous effect on rainfall in Agumbe.
“Monoculture tree plantations are ‘green deserts’ that bring no rainfall. They can never be considered as forests. There is a need to create awareness among people about the adverse effects of monoculture tree plantations on bio-diversity and climate change,” Kumaraswamy said. According to the recent studies, such plantations would pave way for the loss of biodiversity and increase in emission of carbon due to degradation of the previous ecosystem and disturbance of soil.
Realising the negative impact on biodiversity, the Forest Department has now banned plantation of trees such as acacia, eucalyptus on forest land. Raveesh, a resident of Agumbe told Deccan Herald that besides deforestation, there were other scientific reasons for the decline in rainfall. The temperature in the region is rising by the year, resulting in Agumbe losing its cool climate.
Venkatesan, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said: “I feel the MPM should not have been allowed to take up monoculture tree plantation in a place like Tirthahalli where you have natural forest.” A resident of Tirthahalli has approached the Karnataka High Court against the tree plantation taken up by MPM. A committee has been formed to submit the report on the impact of such plantation on bio diversity.