Munnar

Munnar Division was formed in 1962. The Division comprises of Neriyamangalam, Adimali, Munnar and Devikulam Ranges. The Head Quarters of the Division is located in Devikulam. The extent of forests under the various Ranges in this Division is as follows

 

 

Range

Extent      (Sq km)

Neriyamangalam

102.740

Adimali

110.872

Munnar

106.190

Devikulam

54.043

Total

373.845

 

 

S NARENDRABABU I F S

DIVISIONAL FOREST OFFICER

MUNNAR

PHONE 04865 264237, 9447979045

 

Munnar Division

            The Northern Forest Division of erstwhile Travancore state was bifurcated into Malayattoor and Muvattupuzha Divisions in July 1946. With the integration of Travancore - Cochin State in 1950, both these Divisions were amalgamated and a new Division namely “Malayattoor Forest Division” was formed with headquarters at Kodanad. Malayattoor Forest Division was again bifurcated by excluding the Eastern portion which formed a new forest Division called Munnar Forest Division with headquarters at Mattupetty, with effect from 01/04/63 vide G.O. (M.S) 1011/62/ Agri dated 05/06/1962 consisting of three Ranges namely Devikulam, Marayoor and Adimaly. The headquarters of Munnar Division was shifted from Mattupetty to Devikulam during 1970. The Division came under the purview of High Range Circle, which was constituted in 1981 as per Govt. order GO (MS) 197/81/Forest dated 31/07/1981. Adimaly Range was bifurcated into Neriamangalam and Adimaly Ranges with

Headquarters at Adimaly and Neriamangalam respectively, in order to control large-scale illicit tree fellings and encroachments. Similarly, Devikulam Range was bifurcated into Devikulam and Munnar Ranges with headquarters at Devikulam and Munnar. Till the formation of Marayoor sandal Division in 2005, Munnar Forest Division had five Ranges, namely Munnar Range with headquarters at Munnar, Devikulam Range with headquarters at Devikulam, Adimaly Range with headquarters at Adimaly, Neriamangalam Range with headquarters at Neriamangalam and Marayoor Range with headquarters at Marayoor. To combat the large scale illicit felling and smuggling of sandal wood trees Marayoor Range

was upgraded as Marayoor Sandal Division, as per Notification G.O (MS) No. 67/05 Forest dated 08/06/05.There are two interpretations for calling the tract Munnar. One version is that the place was named Munnar after Dr. JOHN DANEL MUNRO the founder of High Range plantation area. Another version is based on the conflunce of three rivers flowing through this area. These three rivers (Moonu Aaru) are (1) Kadalar, (2) Nallathanni Aar and (3). Kallar. These three rivers flowing down from various directions and confluence at one plance which came to be known as Munnar.

 

Name: The proposals in this Working Plan cover the Munnar Forest Division. This Working Plan will be the third Working Plan for Munnar Forest Division. The first Working Plan of Munnar Forest Division for the period from 1973 to 1983 was prepared by Sri. James Varghese. The second Working Plan prepared for the period from 1994 to 2004 by Sri. N.

G. Narayanan was approved by the Government of India for the period from 2001 to 2002. Thereafter the Division was functioning with approved short-term management plans. The Present Working Plan deals with all Reserve Forests, Kannan Devan Hill area, Cardamom Hill Reserves, Unreserves, Vested Forests and other lands at the disposal of the Government lying in Munnar Forest Division.

 

Situation: The tract dealt with is situated between 760 52’ 30’’ and 770 15’ East longitudes and between 90 52’ and 10 10’ North latitudes. The area dealt with in the Working Plan falls within the Devikulam and Udumbanchola Taluks of Idukki Revenue District. A small portion of about 12 Sq.Km of Malayattoor Reserve Forest of Neriamangalam Range is lying in Kothamangalam Taluk of Eranakulam Revenue District. The Headquarters of Munnar Division is at Devikulam, about 6 Km from Munnar town. The nearest railway station Aluva is about 115 Km from Munnar town and the nearest airport is Nedumbassery which is about 115 Km from Munnar town.

 

CONFIGURATION OF THE GROUND

Topography: Munnar Division is situated in the High ranges of Southern Western Ghats. The whole area is hilly in character with undulating terrain. The general direction of the main ridges in the Division runs from North East to Southwest and it is often difficult to describe them as such because of the presence of numerous hill features and subsidiary ridges that

take off in various directions. The Working Plan area is situated on the western slopes of Western Ghats. Here the tract is divided into four sub regions namely the High range Plataue of Kannan Devan Hills in North, valleys of Pooyamkutty and Edamala on western side, the Cardamom Hills in South East and the gorge of the main Periyar River in South. The Western slopes of the central high ranges are deeply carved out into a complex of valleys by the Northern tributaries of Periyar River namely Deviyar, Idamalayar and Pooyamkutty Aar. As one traverses from Neriamangalam to Munnar, altitude increases gradually from 33 meters to 1525 meters. To the East of the Kannan Devan hills, there is a spur hill range of the Western ghats extending to North East into Tamil Nadu. This ridge with an extensive high elevation plateau is the Palani hills or the Kodaikanal hills.

 

Altitude: Altitude varies from 33 meters near Palamattom on the bank of River Periyar in Neriamangalam Range to Anamudi (2695 M) in Munnar Range, the highest peak in South India, which is located on the boundary between Eravikulam National Park and Munnar Division. The second highest peak in this Division is the Meesapulimala on the state

boundary with an altitude of 2637 M.

 

High Peaks of Munnar Division

 

Name

Range

Height (M)

 

Anamudi

Munnar

2695

Meesapulimala

Devikulam

2637

Mannamala (Aruvikadu)

Devikulam

2614

Kundalathalaimala

Devikulam

2534

Thandermala

Munnar

2522

Umayamala (Pettimudi)

Munnar

2434

Sambanmala

Munnar

2306

Kannimala

Munnar

2280

Erumamala

Munnar

2278

Devimala

Devikulam

2206

Rajamala

Munnar

2193

Chokkanadu

Devikulam

2183

Ottakkambumala

Munnar

2164

Erumapettimala

Munnar

2131

Nellimala

Devikulam

2115

Kolukkumala

Devikulam

2056

Parvathimala

Munnar

1930

Pettikuttamudi

Munnar

1906

Ottapparamala

Adimaly

1853

Pattakattimala

Munnar

1670

Pattivaramala

Devikulam

1552

Kooradikkumala

Devikulam

1538

 

Aspect: The tract consists of numerous main and subsidiary hills. It is highly undulated owing to the rugged nature of the land with numerous hills having both the main and subsidiary ridges that take off in various directions. Therefore, all aspects are found in the tract. The general course of the main rivers and streams is westwards. This tract constitutes

the “Upper Region” of the Periyar watershed, as delineated by the Kerala

CLIMATE AND RAINFALL

            High degree of altitudinal variations and changes in aspects induces remarkable difference in the climate within this tract. The climatic conditions in the high Ranges are different from those of the low Ranges. The climate on the western side of the Western Ghats is extremely different from that of the Eastern side. Appreciable changes in climatic conditions are noticed from one end to the other. The climate is more or less temperate in the high ranges of Munnar Division. During winter, in high altitude areas lying above 1525 M are characterized by severe cold nights but the days are normally warm/hot. In certain valleys pool frost occurs in winter months causing damage to young plants. Pool frost is the result of inverted temperature gradient setup at winter nights in the valley causing a convection current of cold air sliding down. In enclosed valleys, a pool of chilled air accumulates at the bottom of the valley which reduces the temperature causing damage to vegetation. The adverse effect of winter is so severe that the younger plants get frozen or

chilled to death, stems of trees may get split and plants may even be uprooted due to frost lifting caused by the expansion of freezing water.

 

            Major area of the Division falls in the western slope of the Western Ghats. This area receives rains from both monsoons viz the South - west and North - East and showers during April – May. The annual average rainfall is about 3000 mm. The regular monsoon commences by June and lasts till the end of August. The heaviest precipitation is during

June - July. The North east monsoon starts by October and continue till the end of November. During this period, rain starts in the afternoon accompanied by thunder and lightning. During the rainy season severe cold is experienced, especially in Munnar region due to the continuous drizzling during days and nights, it is cold even in the midday. The high relative humidity also adds to the fury of the climate. The lowest rainfall recorded during the period 1997 to 2008 is 4380 mm in 2003 and the highest rainfall was 6500 mm in 2005.

 

Wind: Wind is generally light to moderate, which strengthens in monsoon season. During the period from January to May wind strengthens in afternoon. In the Southwest monsoon season wind is mainly westerly or North westerly. During the rest of the year wind is mainly North Easterly to Easterly in morning and blow from direction between Southwest and

Northwest in the afternoons.

 

Temperature: The climate is more or less temperate in the high altitude areas. The temperature varies from 6 to 260C. Minimum temperature during the last ten years was 6.40C recorded in 1997 February and maximum was 25.90 C recorded in March 2004.

 

Relative Humidity: The air is highly humid throughout the year, Relative Humidity is 80 % and above. In interior regions, the humidity from December to March is between 70 to 80 % in the after noon. 9

 

Cloudiness: During May due to, Southwest monsoon season, sky is thickly clouded. In the post monsoon month of October and November sky is moderately clouded and in the other months it is lightly clouded.

WATER SOURCE

 

The highly elevated undulating terrain which receives heavy rains from Southwest and North East monsoons, result in the formation of network of rivers and streams and hence there is no scarcity of water in the western slope of tract. The area is well drained.

 

Major water sources

 

            Periyar River: Periyar river with its perennial supply of water is the main source of discharge from Nagarampara Reserve and the southern half of Malayattoor Reserve. From the northern half of Malayattoor Reserve originate the Kunji Aar, Thuduppi Aar and uttampuzha – the first two joining the Pooyamkutty Aar and the last at Idamala Aar. Idamala Aar itself it formed by the union of Anamalai and Mannali rivers which take their origin in the Anamudi reserve. The Deviyar originates from Thalamaly area of Malayattoor Reserve Forests in Adimaly Forest Range and flows westwards to join Periyar at Neriamangalam. Three rivers namely Nallathanni Aar, Kannimala Aar and Kundala aar that originate in the KDH have their confluence at Munnar Town and flow down towards Periyar as Muthirapuzha aar.

 

Tributaries of Major Rivers

 

1) Nallathanni Aar:- It begins from Nallathanni and flows towards North – East direction and joins Muthirapuzha Aar at Munnar and then flows down to join Periyar river at Panamkutty.

 

2) Kannimala Aar:- It originates from Anamudi Reserve Forest and flows Eastwards to join Muthirapuzha at Munnar.

 

3) Kundala Aar:- This river orginates from Top station at the state boundary and flows Westwards to Kundala Dam Reservoir and then flows to Mattuppetty Dam Reservoir and finally to Munnar to join Nallathanni Aar and Kannimala Aar.

 

4) Kallar Aar:- It originates from Pallivasal Unreserve Forest area, flows Southwards to join the Muthirapuzhayar at Kallarkutty.

 

5) Idaliyar Aar:- This river has its origin from Malayattoor Reserve Forests at Kerala-Tamilnadu border near Noorady Tribal Settlement and then flows westwards to Pooyamkutty.

 

6) Panniyar Aar:- This river arises from Chinnakanal – Surianelli area of Devikulam Range and reaches Anayirankal Dam Reservoir and then flows westwards to Ponmudi Dam Reservoir; then joins Muthirapuzha at Vellathoovel.

 

7) Deviyar Aar:- Its origin is at Thalamaly area of Malayattoor Reserve Forests of Adimaly Forest Range in Munnar Forest Division and flows westwards to join Periyar at Neriamangalam.

 

8) Chemmannar Aar:- It starts from CHR region at Udumbanchola and supports cardamom cultivation in the region and flows westwards to join Panniyar at Kuthungal Hydro electric project area, then flows to Ponmudi Dam Reservoir and thereafter joins Muthirapuzha River at Vellathooval.

 

Reservoirs: Many dams have been constructed across the rivers in the Munnar Division for power generation and irrigation. The details regarding dams and reservoirs are given in last Part of this Chapter dealing with legal positions.

 

WATERSHED AND THEIR DISTRIBUTION

 

            Watershed development concept: Generally, forests consist of multi-storied vegetation with closed and spreading canopy levels and dense undergrowth. The thick leaf litter on the forest floor provides protective cover to the soil and regulates the pace of run-off of water, leading to the formation of steady and mild flowing streams and rivers. Forests of the region once supported luxuriant vegetation. Denudation and consequent degradation of vegetation of the locality caused due to various forms of biotic pressures such as uncontrolled grazing, repeated annual fires and illicit removal of firewood. Once the soil is exposed, the soft and nutrient-rich soil is lost due to accelerated run-off leading to soil erosion and degradation. This soil loss is more in steep hills with the result, soil is structurally fragmented paving the way for formation of gullies, which reduce the area that supports and sustains vegetation. In such a situation, the forests instead of developing into richer form of ecosystem by progression will undergo retrogression. River / stream bank erosion continues with the rising river stream flow during the monsoon causing widening of rivers and streams with raised beds filled with sand and rubble. This results in their reduced

carrying capacity and such a situation creates floods, which are responsible for the damage and loss of life and property. If stream banks are stabilized by suitable species like bamboo, reeds and other soil binders, the water courses can remain regulated, their safe and steady

carrying capacity can be increased and finally the life of reservoirs can also be enhanced considerably. This increases ground water potential also as the water slowly percolates down to the deeper soil strata. Therefore it is necessary to afford stabilization of river / stream banks, wherever practically possible.

 

 

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