Friday, September 23, 2011

Konkan, fogotten treasure!

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not… Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Some times reluctantly you go on a holiday & it turns out as a best break you could have even with all the planning! Some what my experience with my recent Konkan trip with my badminton group was one such. I am a forest lover & most rather all of my free time in vacations have been in forest but this time when the trip is planned for Konkan I was a bit reluctant as what’s there to see, was my approach. Agreed many will wrinkle there nose over this question & I too have heard as well read a lot about Konkan's scenic ness yet like the ad of one liquor brand " Have I made it large?" my mind was asking " Is it worth? " But the outcome was more than what I have expected, its not only worth visiting once but repeatedly yet it made me sad seeing the poor infrastructure as well lack of enthusiasm of govt as well local bodies who neglects this immense wealth of nature & have failed to en cash the same!

The resort which we had been visiting claims to be an Eco- Savvy & on the coastal road from Alibaug to Murud. It runs all along the virgin beaches mainly because all the properties adjoing to the sea are privately held. On other side of road are the ranges of Sahyadris with thickest forest with all shades of greens & amongst one such hill the resort is situated. As most of the properties are private the sea shore isn’t accessible to the public at such places. There are advantages as well disadvantages too, advantage is the beach remains much cleaner in comp air to the public beaches but at the same time it becomes restricted to guests or limited visitors! All along the trip I was looking for the Eco- tourism &announcements by the govt about which I have read in news papers & media but unfortunately I couldn't see even the glimpse of the same leave apart the exhibits of it! We say we have a tourism department & with all due respect if its there then it don't know what they are missing! First of all the horrible road conditions, the distance from Pune to Alibug-Kashid must not have been more that some 150 km & it took us nearly 4 & half hours plus a constant fear that any moment the vehicle may get damage. A good road condition is a very basic & primary demand of the tourism which we seem to have forgotten. When we expect people to visit us we should see that their journey to the destination is simple & with least bothering, which is completely missing. There are no proper signages where to go for your destinations neither any information available about the locations which you can visit around any of the places. You have to be dependent on local’s advice or relay on some one's opinion of the place who has visited earlier here. Why can’t we have booths at regular intervals along the mains roads giving such information with proper maps & distances mentioned? That will ease away much of botheration for the visitors. I am not expecting recreation centers like we get in Europe or US where not only the info but the tourist can fresh up with the facili8ties like toilets ,fuel stations, restaurants but simple plain information should make available. About the road condition why can’t the tourism dept raise a hell over the concern dept & blame them for the loss of revenue because of such conditions of road as that does reduce the repeat customers & the delay in reaching time to the destination does make the visitor wary of the place!

There are guest houses lined up along the road where the localities have displayed boards saying MTDC (Maharashtra state tourism dept) affiliated but that's it! They don’t have basic infrastructure like telephone or list of popular places around! Hygiene & cleanliness was never our strong point yet it’s high time that if we want to really convert visitors in repeat run as regular tourists then we need to maintain a certain scale of standards on these fronts. A good & clean toilet is a very primary need at such places which is missing from most of the places. Same is with the information available about the surrounding places as the hosts themselves are ignorant & unable to guide the tourists properly, thus making a negative impact on them.

The coast carries probably the best & thick forest line for which the Konkan is famous for. But the unfortunate part is it’s neither advertised nor the govt depts. i.e. forest & tourism has done anything to explore the same. Except the Karnala bird sanctuary which is along Goa highway all other forests have no means for a tourist to explore them. Here forest & tourism department should have jointly worked up about the facilities being provided to the visitors & it could have a great revenue earner as well making people aware about the coastal forests which are so rich in biodiversity of various species. Look at the way other states like MP or Karnataka or Uttaranchal have projected their forest assets via Kanha, Bandipur or Corbet parks! It’s saddening that with so much of on platter yet we fail to deliver & this richness remains away from the tourists. No where there is any information how a visitor can see or explore these places neither there are any trails made for the same. All one can admire is the thick green cover on one side of road & occasional glimpse of a fish eagle coming out of it & circling the sea shore. Forest dept should take lead & open up this treasure for all those visiting Konkan & let them know about the nature around. Had this spot been in any other country like Malaysia or Singapore, I can’t imagine where they would have taken the same in terms of developing as a tourist hot spot!

Another disheartening factor is most of the tourists don't take any effort to keep this serene surrounding clean & add on there thrash which includes liquor bottles to water bottles to plastic carry bags. All ready the infrastructure of most of the local bodies is poor & this additional garbage is real burden on them, making the road sides as well the public beaches open garbage beans1 this we should remind to ourselves is the area is popular destination because it offers something which our urban life don't have & that is the clean pure nature around. If we forget this then lets understand we ourselves are killing our treasures & have no right to blame the govt for not offering good infrastructure! As Waldo Emerson has said, after all nature doesn't asks us anything from us in lieu of the joy it’s giving us but to keep it as it is!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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