The Eco-tourism project jointly launched by the Forest department and Tourism department with the Elephant camp at Konni six years ago is soon to get a facelift.

Konni with a vast expanse of lush green forests has already been identified as the eco-tourism hub of Pathanamthitta with the Elephant Camp in Konni town its base station. The elephant camp presently houses an elephant museum, exhibition spaces, elephant kraal for captive elephants and retiring place for the mahouts, besides facility for elephant rides.

Mr Adoor Prakash, Health Minister and local MLA, said the Government would chalk out a number of projects which could effectively exploit the eco-tourism potential of Konni.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr Prakash said the Government has given priority for eco-tourism promotion, taking into consideration its eco-friendly advantages of the `God’s Own Country’.

However, there were allegations of official lethargy delaying the progress of various tourism schemes at the Elephant camp during the past five years.

The Elephant museum proposed at the camp still remain an incomplete project. The skeleton of an elephant brought to the museum two years ago is yet to be assembled and displayed for reasons best known to the authorities concerned. The audio-visual theatre at the camp is more or less dysfunctional.

Ironically, the post of Range Officer at Konni who is also the administrative officer at the Elephant camp has been remaining vacant since the past six months, badly affecting the smooth functioning of the camp.

Mr Prakash said he has taken up the matter with the Forest Minister, K.B. Ganeshkumar, and Tourism Minister, A.P. Anilkumar and they have assured every possible support for the full-fledged development of the eco-tourism centre in a time-bound fashion.

Joint inspection planned

The Health Minister said he was planning a joint inspection of various places having immense tourism potential in and around Konni soon by the Ministers of Tourism and Forest.

Mr Prakash said more sites would be identified in the forests tracts of Konni and along the banks of river Achenkovil for developing them into worldclass eco-tourism centres in a phased manner.

The Tourism department and Forest department have decided to engage local Vana Samrakshana Samitis for running various projects like trekking, forest trail, elephant safari, bird watching, etc, with people’s participation so that the local community would be the key beneficiaries of these projects, he said.

He said the Government would first focus on completion of various pending works at the Elephant camp in a time-bound manner.

Butterfly park at Adavi

Mr Pradeepkumar, Divisional Forest Officer, said the department would set up a butterfly park at Adavi in Mundonmoozhi on the banks of river Kallar as part of the eco-tourism project.

The proposed butterfly park will be a home to hundreds of colourful butterflies, including some rare species.

The DFO said a riverine trekking programme and a medicinal garden were the other major projects planned in Konni.

Mr Pradeepkumar said tree-top huts have also been planned as part of the eco-tourism project at the Elephant camp as well as various select forest areas in Konni.

Construction of a compound wall, proper lighting, a bathing pool for elephants, a Vanasree outlet to sell forest produces, streamlining of the existing elephant safari with a view to attract more tourists would be the immediate priorities at the Elephant camp, he said.

The camp houses five elephants and the department has been conducting elephant ride on two of them.

The Minister said rock climbing and river rafting would also be introduced in the forest areas of Konni as part of the eco-tourism initiative.