The Odisha government on Saturday announced its decision to regulate the visit of foreign tourists and researchers to areas inhabited by vulnerable tribal groups such as Bondas, Dongria Kondhas and other such communities.
“No foreign tourist/researcher intending to visit the areas inhabited and frequented by the particularly vulnerable tribal groups [PVTGs] will do so without express permission from the District Magistrate,” said a press release issued by the office of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
“A copy of the permission should be marked to the local police station. It shall be the duty of the Inspector-In-Charge/Officer-In-Charge of the police station to ensure that the conditions mentioned in the permission are strictly followed. In case of any violation, criminal cases should be lodged against the tourist/sponsor/tour operator under appropriate sections of the law.”
All applications for such permission shall be made to the District Magistrate through the Tourist Officer of the district concerned. While granting permission, the District Magistrate should impose such conditions as are necessary to protect and uphold the cultural ethos and dignity of the tribal community, the government said.
While the Bonda tribals live in the hill regions of Malkangiri district, the Dongria Kondhas live in the hilly areas of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.
According to the decision, the District Magistrate should allow people to visit only a limited number of villages/locations, taking into account the sensitivity of the area and bona fide of the purpose of visit. The tourists should be accompanied by a representative of the Development Agency of the concerned PVTG.
The government said no permission should be given for visiting these areas at night, and prohibited photography/videography of people belonging to the PVTGs.
“Physical proximity of the tourists to the PVTGs should be strictly prohibited and they should also not to be allowed to enter into the houses of the PVTGs.”
No permission should be granted for any form of amusement/entertainment by the PVTGs for the benefit of the tourists, the government said.
The tour operators, who intend to take tourists to these areas, should be registered with the Department of Tourism and Culture.