Tuesday, January 6, 2015


A few years ago, this space was a reasonably wooded forest, which had some wildlife running around it. Within this nine-acre patch of land in Nandanam, a small herd of chital, a brood of mongooses, a few snakes, a couple of monkeys and a wide variety of birds lived together, mostly in harmony, wondering why some of their fellow creatures were cooped up inside buildings. 

Those buildings - which were difficult to spot from the air because of the tree cover - housed the facilities of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University's Poultry Research Station (PRS). The PRS was set up in 1941, to supply poultry breeders with 'superior germplasm'. Over the years, the PRS introduced a variety of lines; apart from the ubiquitous chickens, they had the Japanese quails, turkeys, guinea fowls and geese. Over the decades, the variants introduced from the PRS appended 'Nandanam' to their names - hence Nandanam chicken or Nandanam quail. 

In 2011, it was decided that the land being occupied by the PRS could be put to better use for the citizens of Chennai. The PRS was shifted to Madhavaram, where the University has extensive space and the site at Nandanam was handed over to the Chennai Metro for constructing their administrative and maintenance facilities. The first thing the Chennai Metro did was to clear the land of almost all the vegetation; a few trees remain around the periphery, but in the centre, both trees and buildings were razed. This picture is from a year ago, when the clearing was going on in full swing; if one were to see this space for the first time now, it would be difficult to believe that deer and koels once frolicked here!

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