Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.

Uday Mohite
dna
Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.Maharashtra finance and forests minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told dna: “We will develop eco-tourism linked with forests.” He added that apart from providing an avenue to tourists to roam these pristine areas, this will also boost employment for locals and tribals, who can act as guides. Adventure sports facilities can also be developed, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his maiden budget presented in the state legislature, Mungantiwar had announced the establishment of a ‘Nisarg Paryatan Vikas Mandal’ (Eco-tourism promotion board) for developing tourism in forest areas, conserving biodiversity and providing access to employment for locals.”We will develop different sites in the state. With a little developmental work, they can offer avenues for people to enjoy pure air,” said Mungantiwar, adding that the state will identify such locations, build motorable roads and ensure proper sanitation.In 2010, the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) inked a MOU for development of eco-tourism. The FDCM has begun home-stay arrangements at some sites where they had begun work, developed nature trails, trained local youth to act as guides and for catering and house keeping and also installed solar power equipment and bio-digestors to treat sewage.”Unfortunately, this (eco-tourism) has not caught up in Maharashtra, development, if any, has been too far and few,” admitted Mungantiwar. Maharashtra’s green coverMaharashtra has a 61,734 sq km forest area, down from 63,544 sq km in 1960-61. The state has 8% of India’s forested area of 7,71,821 sq km. The area under forests in Maharashtra is 52.07 lakh hectare or 16.9% of the total 307.58 lakh hectare geographical area, making it the second-largest land use after agriculture. The state has six national parks, 47 wildlife sanctuaries and four conservation reserves with a tiger population of around 190. Of the total forests in the state, 16% falls in the dense category, 7% in scrub, 39% in open and 38% moderately dense.

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Maharashtra government to promote eco-tourism in forested areas