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State to lure tourists with green vacations

Soon, you will be able to opt for a vacation in 90 agro-tourism centres spread across the state and earn ‘green’ brownie points as well.

mumbai Updated: May 07, 2011 01:01 IST
Snehal Rebello

Soon, you will be able to opt for a vacation in 90 agro-tourism centres spread across the state and earn ‘green’ brownie points as well.

In the next few months, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) will devise a plan to make the state’s agro-tourism sector sustainable by incorporating various green infrastructure models, ranging from the use of renewable energy to harvesting rainwater.

An extension of eco tourism, agricultural tourism or agro-tourism, is a holiday concept of living on an agricultural farm and experiencing rural life, including riding a bullock cart, eating farm produce or simply working in the fields alongside farmers.

“Most of the agro-tourism centres are located on the outskirts of cities and have water shortage and power cuts. But those travelling from cities such as Mumbai to these holiday destinations hope for a 24-hour water supply and no load-shedding. It’s here that we want to incorporate green models,” said Namrata Mahan, research associate, TERI.

For instance, solar panels can be used for lighting rooms or heating water. Alternatively, a hybrid system that uses wind energy during the winter season and solar energy in the summer can also be used. These centres would be able to harvest rainwater and even reuse water that is treated through natural filters instead of expensive sewage treatment plants.

“Since most people have ancestral homes in villages as well, visitors can also replicate some of these eco-friendly techniques there as well. Or can verbally pass on these measures,” said Mahan.

Agro-tourism managers were brought on board while developing the green plan and were exposed to various components that make up a green structure at a recently held exhibition, Ever Green Krishi Dhan, in Goregaon.

TERI will also assist infrastructure development of agro-tourism centres in collaboration with the concerned state departments and guide the interested tourism centres to avail subsidies for green infrastructure.