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Ralamandal sanctuary in for face-lift

SEVERAL BROAD measures have been decided up on to bring about a transformation of the Ralamandal sanctuary- the pet hunting ground of the Holkar kings- to lure more visitors.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2006 15:52 IST

SEVERAL BROAD measures have been decided up on to bring about a transformation of the Ralamandal sanctuary- the pet hunting ground of the Holkar kings- to lure more visitors.

Principal secretary (Forest) Avni Vaish, who presided over a meeting in this connection on Thursday, stressed on expanding the horizon of visitors and transform the sanctuary in an eco-tourism hub.

Divisional Commissioner Ashok Das, Eco-Tourism Board Chairman AK Bhattacharya, forest officials and members of a special committee drawn to oversee execution of this project at the sanctuary attended the meeting.

The days of the neglected sanctuary are about to turn for the better and the place would come alive with activity. From quite sometime now the forest department had been mulling over ways to improve the conditions in the sanctuary. After much brain-storming it was decided to go in for an option best suited for the area and come up with a project that was not limited just to the forest department but was in the best interests of the public.

Hence it was turned over to the Eco-tourism department for holistic development and was highlighted by Hindustan times earlier.

In developing it as per eco-tourism guidelines, efforts would be made to encourage a large number of activities blending adventure sports with nature excursions. The aim would be to bring people closer to nature and introduce them in a friendly environment to a large number of mammals, reptiles and birds species to learn the important lesson of co-habiting with the wildlife.

The sanctuary thence would become a stepping-stone for tourists/ visitors into wildlife. The most important aspect of the proposed activities will include camps for nature lovers, particularly targeting students and involving youth clubs and organisations for regular excursions. The campers will get exposed to the therapeutic influence of nature, will boost their self-confidence and give a lesson on environmental ethics.

Apart from the nearly 21-lakh population of the city people from nearby towns like Ujjain, Dewas and Mhow will form a large catchment area, ensuring regular flow of visitors.

The forest officials’ quarters, depot at the foot of the hill and the plateau on the top have been identified as potential sites for setting up camps. The camps can be planned for different durations and batch sizes from 20 to 40 campers can be allowed at a single go.

The need for developing infrastructure, before commencement of plans aimed at drawing in people, has been acutely felt. While patches of the road leading up to the hill have been made, the 3.5-Km climb having sharp bends and steep elevation still leaves a lot to be desired. The 1.5 Km approach road from the bypass is in a sorry state and not even a board announces the existence of the sanctuary at the Bypass intersection.

The Public Works department (PWD) has submitted a Rs 94 lakh plan for road development and Rs 36 lakh have been given for developing the building, which once used to be the royal hunting lodge.

Security would be of key essence and, while efforts would be made to stock more animals and convert the area into a rescue centre for animals, a wire fence would separate humans from the animal enclosure.

The fact that big cats do no abound in the vicinity of the sanctuary goes in the favour of allowing children inside. Drinking water is pumped to the hilltop and electricity needed only in small measure at a camp in the wild can be provided through solar energy.

Artificial water points for drawing animals to where they can be easily spotted from a distance will ensure the visitors get a fair return for their money and time spent. Developing parking lots, a waste management system and toilets are mooted. Installation of a telescope on the highest point has been cleared. The proposed interpretation centre and restaurant have been changed into broader terms of education centre and refreshment facility.

Five villages lying in the close vicinity have been surveyed and creating jobs for the nearly 20,000 population would be the priority. Those using the sanctuary land for grazing would be provided immediate vocation so that they become constructive rather than destructive. Involving Non government Organisations, prominent people from the city, business class, Kasturba Gram and nature lovers will form the backbone of the project.

First Published: Nov 17, 2006 15:52 IST