The Forest Department has proposed to introduce eco-tourism in Pachamalai near Thuraiyur in the district, with the objective of improving the socio-economic lot of the tribal community settled there.

Funds available with the village forest committees given under the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project would be utilised to develop eco-tourism activities involving the tribal community.

As part of this new initiative, proposed to be launched in April, eco-tourism committees would be constituted in the tribal hamlets of Keelakarai and Top Sengattupatti, where the Forest Department has a guest house. The department has worked out on weekend packages (inclusive of food) and for government holidays separately for families and groups visiting Pachamalai, part of the Eastern Ghats.

The 24-hour stay package is confined only to families, while the day package is for a group of visitors not exceeding 100 people. The accommodation in the forest guest house would be restricted to four families. The visitors, who would have to make their own transport arrangements to reach Top Sengattupatti, would be taken to the Murugan Koil view point. Arrangements would be made for trekking in the forest area from Keelakarai for a distance of about one-and-half kilometres with the assistance of tribal guides.

I. Anwar, District Forest Officer, Tiruchi, said that the revenue generated from eco-tourism would be utilised for the socio-economic development of the tribal community. The initiative would be carried out in a regulated manner without damaging the forest area, he added.

The bookings would be made in advance and those interested could contact the District Forest Office 0431- 2414265.