Yogeshwar says 150 guesthouses in forests will also be shut down

In a move to preserve and protect wildlife, the State government has decided to order closure of all private commercial resorts located in the vicinity of wildlife sanctuaries in the State. The Forest Department’s guesthouses located inside the forest will also be closed.

Minister for Forests C.P. Yogeshwar, who held a meeting with department officials on Monday, told presspersons that notices would be served to owners of all private resorts asking them to close them as they are causing harm to forests and wildlife.

According to the Environment Protection Act, 1986, no construction work to promote tourism must be taken up in a 10-km radius of protected forests. However, as there is a great demand for resorts from tourists near wildlife sanctuaries, many resorts have come up in the vicinity of reserved forest areas.

Private parties have illegally constructed 30 resorts by encroaching upon forest areas. So, now it has been decided to order closure of all commercial resorts in the vicinity of the forest, Mr. Yogeshwar said.

According to the Minister, tour operators have been disturbing tigers and other animals by taking their vehicles near them. He said private resorts, including Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited, should try to earn revenue from tapping potential of non-forest area tourism spots.

The department’s Principal Secretary will tour wildlife sanctuaries and formulate guidelines to restrict the movement of tourists and vehicles inside the reserves, Mr. Yogeshwar said.

The Forest Department has also decided to shut down nearly 150 guesthouses inside forest areas.

New guesthouses will be built outside the forests for carrying out administrative and other works of the department, Minister Yogeshwar said. He explained that there is a huge demand for forest guesthouses from relatives of IFS officers and other higher level officials as there are as many as 177 IFS officials in the State. And, the Forest Department has been spending lots of money on maintenance of those guesthouses, he added.

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