In a letter to Union Ministers for Environment and Forests and Tourism Prakash Javadekar and Prahlad Patel (MoS) respectively, nearly 150 tourism industry stakeholders from Goa on Thursday spelt out the perils for the tourism industry, if the central government goes ahead with multiple projects in and around the state's wildlife sanctuaries.
"With projects creating deforestation in the area, future development of hinterland tourism will be adversely affected. Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park are an integral part of the future of Goa. The current community-based tourism initiatives (within the protected areas) will also be destroyed, damaging the local economy and muting any opportunity to make Goa a global leader in sustainable tourism," the letter said.
The letter is signed by various tourism industry stakeholders including hoteliers, restaurateurs, wildlife and adventure tourism promoters, writers, artistes, etc.
Nearly 50,000 trees located in the Western Ghat region of Goa are slotted for felling for multiple central government projects which include expansion of railway lines and highways and drawing of a new high tension power, spread across 185 hectares of forested land, several chunks of which are located in the state's numerous wildlife reserves, including the Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary and the Mollem national park, two of the biggest protected forests in the state.
The projects have already been cleared by the National Wildlife Board in April this year.
The letter argues, that instead of clearing up forests for projects, the greenery in the state can be tapped to promote biodiversity tourism, especially at a time when the tourism industry in the state has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The state has a huge opportunity to promote both wildlife eco-tourism as well as cultural and heritage tourism in the hinterland to increase state revenue, employment rates and to emerge as a global leader... Biodiversity conservation, which can be a major tourist attraction, requires locals for implementation of various programs," the letter states.
( 338 Words)