Thursday, February 12, 2015

New tourism zone will not choke lion corridor: government to HC

New tourism zone will not choke lion corridor: government to HC

The Times Of India

AHMEDABAD: The state government has informed Gujarat high court that the proposed new eco-tourism zone on the coastal region in Amreli district, in the outskirt of Gir sanctuary in the last abode of Asiatic lions, will not affect the wild cat.

The government has said that since lions' movement take place during 
night time and tourism activity will be restricted during the day time, there is no likelihood that the lion corridor would be choked.

By taking suo motu cognizance of an anonymous letter taking exception to development and construction in and around the 
forest area, the HC had sought reply from the authorities regarding its proposed tourism zone outside the Gir National Park. The state forest and environment department has stated that since tourism activity will take place in restricted manner during day time, and "movement of animals especially lions take place generally from sunset to sunrise".

The government has cited example of Sasan Gir sanctuary, where tourists flow has increased from 1,30,285 in 2006 to 4,58,585 in 2013-14. The tourists rush has not choked the lion corridor in Sasan Gir, and development of this new eco-tourism zone will only reduce the burden from this area.

The government has also stated that the development of new eco-tourism zone in Jasadhar, Chikalkuda and Khothariya villages will provide 
employment opportunities to forest dwellers. It will also create awareness among general and religious tourists in this region about environment. With this, it has provided the status of interpretation centre for lions etc in this area. It also maintained that no tourism activity has been started yet in this zone.

The government has also stated that the eco-tourism plan is for the year 2012-2022 and it has been approved by the chief wildlife warden as per the provisions of law. The affidavit further said that tourism activity is permissible as per the law in this extended area of forest because this is not a prohibited zone. Moreover, there was no requirement to conduct an impact assessment on environment and reasserted.

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