Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More permits, new routes inside forest

More permits, new routes inside forest
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

The forest department is busy chalking out plans to allow more tourists into the Gir sanctuary. This will increase the number of permits issued in a day by 30 from the existing 90.

It also plans to increase the number of routes inside Gir from four to five in anticipation of the huge flow of tourists in the sanctuary after the ad campaign of superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

The tourism department is now promoting the lions as its main USP and has incorporated the lion even in its logo. The forest has two entry and exit points - one each at Sasan and Bambafore. Officials said on these four routes, one vehicle can access a particular route from Sasan gate and simultaneously, another vehicle can enter the same route from Bambafore entrance.

So at a given time eight vehicles can enter the forest from these two gates. Once this fifth route is opened, 10 vehicles will be able to enter the forest.

According to officials, hoping a surge in tourism after the Amitabh Bachchan shoot, the tourism department had sent a proposal to the forest department in May to keep a part of Gir open throughout the year. With this, it also sought increase in the number of permits for visitors. The officials claimed that they had requested the department to increase the permit by 30 vehicles per day.

After a detailed study, the forest department found that the increase of 30 vehicles per day on the existing routes would put an additional burden and might disturb the animals, resulting in the sighting becoming rare.

"After the tourism department proposed, we have examined the proposal and the department is working to have an alternate route for the tourist so that the number of permits increases by 30 per day," said SK Nanda, principal secretary, forest and environment.

Officials in the tourism department said that the proposal was sent with the intension to ensure that visitors would not have to return empty handed.

Officials said that the forest department has in turn asked the tourism department to create awareness through advertisement campaign about Devaliya being opened for tourists round the year.

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