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Maharashtra govt allows eco hotels, resorts can be built within 5km of forest reserve

Officials said the move could spur tourism in the state and generate employment

mumbai Updated: Sep 26, 2017 00:00 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Forest,Maharastra,Eco Tourism
Maharashtra has 48 sanctuaries, six national parks and four conservation reserves.

In a bid to boost eco-tourism in the state, the state government has decided to permit hotels and resorts in the periphery of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. A notification issued by the state urban development department last week, states tourist homes and resorts can come up within 5km of a wildlife sanctuary or national park in the state. Maharashtra has 48 sanctuaries, six national parks and four conservation reserves.

A senior state secretariat told HT the regulation for development of tourism and hospitality services under ‘Community Nature Conservancy’ around wildlife sanctuaries and national parks is done “in public interest”.

“For land situated within 5km distance or up to the limit of the notified eco-sensitive zone from the boundaries of wildlife sanctuary and national parks, if the land owner applies for development permission, for development of eco-tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, same may be allowed.” stated the notification, which was issued on September 20. The regulation, however, does not apply to forest land, the notification added.

Nitin Kareer, principal secretary, UDD, said the regulation was issued after the tourism department approached them to allow certain concessions to boost tourism. “It was the proposal of the department of tourism. They wanted that all the concessions should come in one single GR. We have made the regulations as per the tourism department’s requirement to promote tourism,” Kareer said.

While the state has as many as 48 sanctuaries, the forest tourism around such reserves has not been developed on the lines of Karnataka. Officials said such an amendment could spur tourism in the state and generate employment. According to the notification, only one floor structure with other tourist facilities can be developed in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. “Only limited area with buildings within the community nature conservancy would be allowed chain link fencing while the rest of the area will be kept free for the wild animals to move around,” said a tourism department official. He said natural streams, hills and slopes will not be allowed to altered or diverted in anyway.

The condition for this development is that the owner of the land would have to own a minimum one hectare of contiguous plot. The tourism department official said the owner will have to make a structure that blends with the area. “The infrastructure must conform to environment friendly and aesthetic architecture. The owner will have to generate at least 50% of the total energy and fuel requirements from solar and biogas, etc. They will have to establish effective sewage disposal and recycling system,” the notification stated.

First Published: Sep 26, 2017 00:00 IST