The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands…Havelock Ellis
Recently I went through an article about Eco Tourism & its ill effect on the entire nature especially wild life! It was indeed very touchy & well covered thoughts about the impact of the entire tourist & their related activities on the surrounding natural habitat, but I will say we haven't yet understood the word Eco Tourism in real term! Its like the quote said, with which most of the environmentalists will agree yet we are seeing the wrong side of the coin is what I feel! First of all analyze that what ever we are doing is it really giving justice to the term Eco Tourism! Well just to go & enjoy our self on the back-ground of nature isn't Eco Tourism & that's what is happening right now here in our country! May it be Mr. Amitabh Bachhan appealing for Kutch Dessert in Gujarat Tourism advertise or may it be an Announcer assuring “Bagh Darshan” ( Tiger sighting) in Madhya Pradesh Tourism advertises! All we sale is nature & what most of the tourist will like to see & nothing to conserve it, is a fact. But isn't it wrong to tag the entire concept of Eco tourism as bad business than correcting our own steps?
In our country unfortunately making money is considered as serious crime & that's the main crux! When we say some thing as sustainable then it does include sustainable financially also & in Eco Tourism also there will be some factors where money is bound to get generated may it be resort owners or tour operators! If there is no proper infrastructure there won’t be tourist is a truth! I am from area close to Melghat, i.e. Northern Vidrbha forest which lays in Amraoti/ Akola districts of Maharashtra. Undoubtedly the best forest we have of Sag (teak) & land of tigers & many other species with vast area under the belt joining two states i.e. Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh. Yet its with zero infrastructure except some resorts in Chikhaldara (a central place), with no Gypsy’s or fixed routes of travel within the forest, there isn’t any means of income available to local tribal i.e. Korku's & result is in last20 years immense forest cutting has happened as well once the tigers used to be roams freely all over nearly 2000 sq km, now you have to search for them or even sighting of chitals is getting rare! Very high rate of malnutrition amongst the tribal infants & poverty & illiteracy is all over the place. Still in this era the local weekly bazaars operates on bar-trading as money is scarce so people believe in commodity exchange. There isn't a petrol pump in hundreds of km leave apart good medical or educational infrastructure. Neither good doctors nor good teachers are ready to come here & work, spare a few NGO's! All this I don’t say because of lack of eco tourism but some where the facts remains as no one comes there, no one is interested in improving the area.
Eco tourism is never meant to harm the environment in any way but its in fact has to be developing an infrastructural support to the environment as well its conservation. The examples which the writer has given about the road construction in Gujrat, is the faulty execution of the wrong plan. Even in USA highways have been planned & executed through the famous Redwood forest where trees are over thousand years old & yet conserved properly. At one place they have cut the road through the huge steam of a redwood tree named “General Sherman" & it has become the center of attraction of all tourists. And yet no NGO or any conservationists have taken any objection, because it’s the way they have executed the entire activity. In USA week-end hiking or traveling in natural habitats is most common but the restrictions during such touring are extreme & the punishments are even more extreme if you fail to follow them! There are wardens not just in forests but even at natural habitats like water falls or mountains, who regularly rounds the terrain & they are them selves well trained as well armed to face any emergency or control the miss behavior of the tourists. In many States they have authority to arrest as well fine the tourists if found misbehaving with the nature & there is no body above the law, may it me some ministers family or any VIP traveling as a tourist, law is same for all & executed accordingly.
Most of us know the Do's & Don’ts while traveling in Eco sensitive areas but we all know that in our country there is no one to act firmly to stop us if we keep on doing even the “Don’ts " & can get away with such acts! It’s obvious that if we want more people to get exposed to such places we need infrastructure like roads & vehicles for the same. And there is always a balancing way to do it. The fact though are different, we have build High-ways & Rail-ways through the forests without keeping proper crossings for the animals living in surrounding forests. We didn't study the natural passes which the animals were using for years & cut through them causing equal or may be more deaths occurring of wild animals in road / rail way crossing than by the poachers! We don’t have proper signage for such spots to avoid accidents & a team backing to control these signage are being followed by the tourists. We allow building the resorts amidst the buffer areas of reserved forests or right in heart of some river bed & don't take any cognizance of the damage it makes on surroundings. Our norms of garbage as well waste water generation & treatment we can’t even follow & control in Metros so to follow the same in remote places is impossible. Though it’s very easy to lay a policy for the same & see that it’s strictly or else shut down the concerned resort. Any business generating money in Eco Tourism has to ensure employment of local peoples to lift their life style & contribute some part of their earnings in building social infrastructure in surrounding area. Taxation should be made accordingly for such business activities. Like in forests like Kanha spread over 1600 sq km, you don’t find a single plastic waste of water bottle such is the sensitiveness of the entire system towards the forest! Why this can’t be replicated all such tourism places & if Kanha can maintain it within the forest why can’t they have proper control on growth of resorts in buffer area? Our Tourism Development Corporations are interested mostly in acquiring the best places at such location & then lease it to private agencies & make money out of it. They can easily give the responsibility of controlling any activity which will hamper the nature. There should be single authority which will control any such development & for that first mark all such spots in the country may it be Forests or natural habitat like Kas platue at Satara or Valley of Flowers! Also efforts should be made to make affordable accommodations like youth hostels at such places. This will make Eco Tourism viable for even a common man which right now is restricted to mostly upper class only!
Joke is right now all the departments are making money out of Eco tourism yet no one is ready to take or has been given the sole responsibility of looking after the damage these activities are doing on the environment in itself! This is the defeat of Eco Tourism!
Actually the term includes not just promoting the tourists & make money but to utilize this money generated for the conservation of local people, trees, animals & entire surrounding by way of various activities which may be social, cultural as well infrastructural! This is how we should look at the term instead just blaming some people who may not be actually responsible for the damage directly it may appear but it’s the indirect fronts which are more important than the on face agencies!
Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune
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