The Punjab government has proposed a project to develop the Harike wildlife sanctuary in Ferozepur district as an eco-tourism hub. A new bird species, jerdon’s Sind babbler, has been discovered recently in the wetland.
An official spokesperson said here on Sunday that the plan was to allow the visitors into the sanctuary for awareness about the natural resources through education and interpretation without disturbing the environment.
The objective is also to create jobs for people living around the sanctuary.
The government claims that this project will be sensitive environmentally and sustainable ecologically. It says the union ministry of environment and forests has granted approval recently to reintroducing gharial (Indian crocodile) in the sanctuary. Preliminary work on the programme is on.
He said the proposed project site had a tremendous eco-tourism potential because of the international status of the wetland and its location on the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers that had an abundance of wildlife and migratory birds. It is the only site where the Indus river dolphin and jerdon’s Sind babbler are found in India, and the endangered species such as smooth Indian otter are also present.
“The younger generation will not only get a practical exposure to ecology but also be sensitised about the conservation of nature,” said the spokesperson, adding that watchtowers, animal-watch cabins, interpretation centre, nature trail on the river banks, eco rides, boating, and water trail would make the site attractive.
The local youth and entrepreneurs along the border villages of Harike would be encouraged to make eco-tourism a source of income. Refreshment joints, swings, games, and landscaped island are proposed to be introduced in phases to add to the attractions and help the local community in the backward area prosper.