Govt to act against illegal Gir hotels
The Times Of India
SASAN (JUNAGADH): Worried by growing tourism pressures on the peripheral areas of the Gir sanctuary such as Dhari and Dudhala — where homestay facilities and hotels have mushroomed — forest and environment additional chief secretary Rajiv Gupta has held an emergency meeting with forest officials and district collectors to review hotel permissions.
"A high court order directs the department to act against all illegal hotels," Gupta said. "We have asked our department and the collectors to take action against such hotels and homestay facilities."
During the meeting, several forest officials said that in Dhari and nearby areas there was no need for hotels and homestay facilities. "These hotels and farmhouses spur illegal lion shows in the area," said an official of the forest department. Another official said that the government-run lion safari operates in Sasan which is far from Dhari. "The hotels argue that Tulsishyam lies in their vicinity but Tulsishyam alone can accommodate no fewer than 3,000 people," said a senior forest department officer. "So these hotels and homestay faculties exist only for illegal lion shows."
Forest officials pointed out that these farmhouses don't qualify for approval under the homestay policy.
The policy clearly states that the owner of the homestay unit has to stay on the premises, but that is not the case in many homestay facilities and farmhouses. Of the 55 establishments that were given approval under the homestay scheme, 52 are in Sasan while three are in Junagadh district. As for the vaccination drive, the department was directed to ensure that all dogs are covered.
The department has been asked to regularly monitor the situation. The vaccination drive began after several lions died of illnesses.
Dhari observes bandh
Dhari: The town off Dhari observed a bandh on Tuesday, over the death of 23 lions at Sarsiya Virdi. The bandh was called for by the Dhari Chamber of Commerce. Paresh Patani, president of the chamber, said, "We suspect that 23 is not the right figure and the forest department is trying to hide the truth. We want the department to come clean and tell the people of Dhari what has really happened to our lions, who have lived with beside our forefathers.