The state forest department will ban entry of private vehicles to the Jhalana forest area in Jaipur from next month to encourage tourism and wildlife conservation, officials said.
The department also plans to start wildlife safari from May.
Located in the heart of Jaipur city, the Jhalana forest is spread over 20 sq km area, and is home to around 20 leopards, including four to five cubs, over 120 species of birds, reptiles, and blue bulls, among others.
“In coming 10-15 days, entry of private vehicles to the forest area will be banned, and only those registered with the department will be allowed,” state forest and environment minister Gajendra Singh Khinvsar told HT.
He said safari will be conducted in the forest area, the way it is being done at Ranthambore in Sawai Madhopur area, on a roaster basis. Around 10 vehicles will be allowed at a time.
“We are also exploring more routes in the forest area; at present there are two – Neem Gatta (7-8km) and Chitalwada (10km). More grassland area will be developed and Gular trees will be planted near water bodies,” said Khinvsar.
For effective surveillance and monitoring, 40 cameras and 10 CCTV cameras will be installed in sensitive areas, he said. “Directions have been issued to stop release of industrial waste water into the forest area,” he added.
A senior forest department official said the safari in forest area would not only encourage tourism but also generate funds, which could be used for the development of the area. “The rates of safari are yet to be decided; however, seven vehicles have been registered through tender,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
To avoid human-animal conflict, fencing and strengthening of boundary walls of the forest area will be undertaken in phases, which is proposed to be completed by March 2018. “The safari will be conducted in morning and evening,” the official said.
An action plan of around ₹6 crore for development works in forest area has been proposed for approval, he said.
Safari in last one year
Wildlife safari is being conducted in the Jhalana forest area by private players since March 2016. The entry fee ranges from ₹375 to ₹800, depending upon the vehicle. In the last one year, over 16,000 Indian and 88 foreign tourists have visited the forest, yielding a revenue of around ₹27.32 lakh.