Tirumala, Oct 7: The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has prepared a roadmap to grow 26 lakh plants in its 3,200 hactare forest zone and along the ghat roads, besides Tirumala town, for the benefit of pilgrims.
According to Tirumala Divisional Forest Officer Subbanachari, the TTD had an exhaustive plan to promote bio-aesthetic strategy and ornamental forestry. The plan also envisaged protection of various medicinal plants and endangered species in the Tirumala zone.
There was an urgent need to protect the 33 forest zones and eight lakes in Tirumala forests and the bio-aesthetic strategy was meant to preserve it, he said.
He said the Tirumala Hills was home to 1,500 varieties of flowers belonging to 175 families and 780 species, including rare medicinal plants, of which 42 were identified as 'sacred plants.' Claiming that the 'Vruksha Prasadam' campaign launched to create awareness on environment protection among the pilgrims had been a huge success, he said a large number of devotees were buying plants of ornamental flowers, being sold here at just Rs three.
Stressing the need for a comprehensive programme to grow sandalwoods in Tirumala to meet the demands of the temple, estimated at one tonne per annum, Mr Subbanachari said ''we have 40,000 sandalwood saplings ready to take up a massive sandalwood forestry in the Sri Venkateswara forest belt.'' He appealed to the pilgrims to join the TTD in its efforts to contain smuggling of sandalwood in Tirumala ranges.