Eco Tourism Board to develop 320 villages in Maharashtra
With an aim to help the small villages earn consistent revenue all throughout the year and protect the biodiversity of the places, the ecotourism board of Maharashtra is planning to develop 320 villages into tourist destinations. These sites will include tiger reserves, national parks, forts, hill stations, religious places and biodiversity parks, said Sunil Limaye, additional principal chief conservator of forests.
“Our priority is protecting wild life and forests and we can only do this with the help of local villagers. The development of such places will help villagers realise that it can be their regular source of income and that their involvement will be crucial for the protection. The forest department will be playing the monitoring role. In case of any rule violation, villagers will pass on the information to us. They will also have certain powers. Such projects will also facilitate employment opportunities such as tour guides, home stays and restaurants. Sale of tobacco or alcohol will not be entertained,” Limaye said.
The ecotourism board, which came into existence in 2015, have so far identified 320 sites (forest lands) which can be developed into tourist destinations. The board is planning to develop the projects in the similar manner as that of the Hazara falls in Gondia district. At present the board is working on 106 sites and is expected t be completed by the end of 2019.