The Tamil Nadu Government, issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State. The site comprising 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village (Melur block) and 53.8 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk) will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage site.
- Arittapatti village, known for its ecological and historical significance, houses around 250 species of birds including three important raptors – birds of prey, namely the Laggar Falcon, the Shaheen Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle.
- It is also home to wildlife such as the Indian Pangolin, Slender Loris and pythons
- The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs that serve as a watershed, charging “72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check dams
- The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of Pandiyan kings in the 16th century is one among them.
- Several megalithic structures, rock-cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds add to the historical significance of the region.
What is Biodiversity Heritage sites (BHS)?
- “Biodiversity Heritage Sites” (BHS) are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising components such as species richness, high endemism, presence of threatened species, keystone species or land races, or biological components having cultural or aesthetic values.
- As per Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, State Governments are empowered to notify such sites, in consultation with ‘local bodies’.
- State Government in consultation with the Central Government may frame rules for the management and conservation.