Sealed private hotels rule the roost in Sasan Gir during tourist season
Indian Express By Parish Joshi
Rajkot, October 31 : A total of Nine hotels in the vicinity of Sasan Gir village, which had been sealed by the Talala Mamlatdar some time ago for not obtaining no-objection certificates (NOC) from the Forest Department, have started functioning again, albeit illegally.
Every year, visitors from far and wide flock to this small village in Junagadh district. The infrastructure to manage tourism here is inadequate with just one functioning Government lodge, Sinh Sadan. In the last few years, however, over 30 private hotels have mushroomed to cash in on the heavy tourist inflow.
"Most of the private hotels that exist in Gir have neither obtained NOCs from the Forest Department nor have they followed any licensing formality. Till date, the authorities had paid a blind eye to this issue. But recently, following orders from the Junagadh District Collector, the Talala Mamlatdar had sealed around nine hotels in the vicinity of Sasan Gir forest.
"All of these sealed hotels had already applied for NOCs long ago, but nothing happened due to the lethargic attitude of the Forest Department. Now, with the tourist season having begun, over 20,000 visitors visit the sanctuary daily and many want to stay back. That's why most of the sealed hotels have started functioning again," said Bharat Chuhan, the owner of a small hotel in Sasan Gir.
When contacted, the Talala Mamlatdar, Amiben Doshi said: "The hotels had been sealed as per power given to me by the Collector, when we came to know that they had not obtained Forest Department NOCs. The local police have to check whether the hotels remain sealed or continue operation. Government holidays are on so we have not been able to follow up on this issue."
The Forest Department, meanwhile, has not taken any interest in the issue. "We are busy managing the heavy traffic of Diwali in the sanctuary and in our interpretation zone, but once this rush recedes, we will look into the matter. As of now, I have not received any file of hotels asking for NOC from us," said L A Chuhan, the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Sasan Gir.