Travel up the Nilgiri's from Coimbatore and you will reach Ootacamund
or Ooty. Just 90 kms away from Coimbatore, Ooty is a picturesque
hill station. It has acquired a new face in the last few months.
The place looks cleaner and traffic has become well-regulated. When
you reach Ooty, you are received with a warning, that no plastic
bags can be carried in. Ooty has been declared as a "Plastic
Free" zone and littering is banned. Many of the illegal constructions,
which hamper the beauty of Ooty have been demolished. All these
changes have been implemented over the last few months by the dynamic
and proactive District Collector of Nilgiris, Supriya Sahu,
Sahu, who belongs to the 1991 batch of the Indian Administrative
Service, took over as the Nilgiris Collector an year ago. Just after
she took the charge, she started her campaign to beautify the Nilgiris
district. This is the only hill district in the whole country, where
the entire district is portrayed as a tourist destination. Apart
from the headquarters Ooty, Supriya Sahu also takes care of Coonoor,
Kotagiri and Gudalur.
In this interview, she emphasizes the need for keeping the holiday
destination neat and clean.
What was Ooty like, when you took over last year?
When I took charge, I saw the need of putting a lot of things in
order. First I steadied the traffic flow. Earlier it was running
in a haphazard way. Then I found a need to remove the rubbish around
the city. All the plastic bags were banned. The illegal hoardings
were removed, as it was obstructing the natural beauty. These things
immediately gave Ooty a different colour.
Is it still being maintained?
Yes, of course. We are monitoring everything regularly. Once the
above said things were implemented, I made sure that it is carried
on smoothly without a break.
Your comments on the infrastructure, considering this is a tourist
about the infrastructure, you have to look from many aspects. When
I took over, I found that this tourist centre does not even have
public toilets. So that was taken care of first.
I banned all the illegal renovations that were happening. Everything
should go through the proper channel. Then as I said earlier, the
roads and small pavements were cleaned. I also made the initiative
to form a beautification committee. With these type of measures
being taken, I am optimistic that the tourists will flow into this
town to get the taste of a pollution free environment.
Apart from that, right from a dormitory to a luxury suite in a
star hotel, good accomodation is available in Ooty. The rates of
course vary according to the season.
What are the plans for the future?
With all the tourists spots and the ancient structures like John
Sullivan's Bungalow, Sullivan's Tree etc, being protected with utmost
care, we expect a large boost in the tourism sector. With that expectation,
we plan to make Ooty more clean and environment friendly. We also
plan to restore the summer festivals, tea festivals etc, which will
bring in more tourists.