You too …!

“You too? I thought there was only one in…..”

“You too? I thought there was only one in…..”

During one of his visits to Bangalore, when our office was still at Sabri Complex, Residency Road, Dr Kurien made the above remark.

He made it after he saw something in the reception area. What was it?

Few months earlier I was in Pondicherry for a review meeting with the MD and other senior officers of the union. Pondicherry has only 72 villages and dairy cooperative societies were formed in every village.

All the villages were already covered under technical inputs program and there was nothing within the regular components to do. We had to think of something that would further build on this infrastructure and add value for the member farmers.

As a part of this exercise, I was going to a village society along with the MD of the union, Chandrashekhar.

On the way to a village society, I noticed a strange looking rock almost of the size of a large filled up gunny bag by the roadside. There were also some small pieces of similar rock lying nearby.

I casually asked Chandrashekhar, “Is that a fossil”? “Yes sir, it is”, he replied.

I then asked him if this was a common sight here or I was seeing something unusual and he said that there is a “fossil park” nearby that we will be passing through on our way back from the society.

On our way back, we stopped to see what it looked like. I was dumbfounded. What I saw was amazing. There were quite a few fossilised trees lying side by side and their trunks were in pieces as though someone had neatly sawed them .

The diameter of these pieces was close to 5 feet. The place was full of these marvellous specimens.

I loved the view so much that I stood there transfixed for almost 15 minutes enjoying the beauty of this natural wonder.

I was told that these fossils are anywhere between 14-16 million years old.

When we got back in the car, Chandrashekhar Chandraskhekhar revealed that this used to be a totally neglected site and was often vandalised by the locals, until the then Lt. Governor, Shri R N HALDIPUR who noticed it.

He had the area immediately fenced, got it recognised as a national park and had it protected.

Following that people started noticing it and now it is beginning to attract some tourists as well. Now picking anything from here and taking it out of Pondicherry is a criminal offence.

After about a month, Chandrashekhar came to Bangalore to see me. As he entered my office, he declared, “Sir I have got a gift for you that is lying in my vehicle. Can you send someone down to get it. It will need to be brought up in the lift”. There were in all four pieces, two just about 6” tall, one was about 15” and the tallest that I kept in office, was about a meter tall.

It was this one meter piece that Dr. Kurien saw that day- the same fossil that I had seen lying by the road side. Chandrashekhar had picked these pieces because they were lying way outside the park area.

Someone had possibly picked them from the park but then decided to abandoned them by the roadside.

Standing in the reception area of the Sabri Complex Office , Dr. Kurien called me out and said, “You too? I thought there was only one mad person in NDDB-Amrita Patel. Now I know she has company”.

When Dr. E Madhavan headed the region, he had it placed on the raised part of lawn near NDDB Bengaluru office.

I don’t know if nearly 30 years down the line, this “priceless gift” is still there.

But I still have the smaller 15” adorable piece with me.

Contributed by RK Nagar former NDDB Regional Director, Southern Region