Bangalore, June 11 (IANS) Karnataka is framing a new policy and guidelines to promote eco-tourism in its forest areas while protecting its wildlife, an official said Tuesday.
“The new policy and guidelines will be in line with the directive of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to promote eco-tourism in forest areas and protect wildlife at the same time,” Karnataka Ecotourism Development Board chief executive Vinay Luthra told reporters here at an event.
State-run and private resorts operating in forest areas will have to conform to the guidelines with best practices to maintain the fragile ecosystem and the natural habitat of wild animals in their sanctuaries.
“We have already introduced a marks system for resorts operated by the state-run agencies and private operators. Marks are given based on best practices put in place such as sewage treatment, use of alternative sources of energy, employing locals and ban on using plastic material,” Luthra said on the margins of a day-long conference on eco-tourism policy and guidelines.
State Forest Minister Ramanath Rai told the participants that the department would reclaim the encroached lands in the forest areas as directed by the Supreme Court.
“The evicted people will be rehabilitated outside forest areas and all encroachments will be cleared in compliance with the apex court order to preserve wildlife and protect their environment by regulating the tourist flow,” Rai said.
The state government will declare the Kudremukh forest area in Chikmagalur district as a tiger reserve after consulting all stakeholders, including locals and the state-run Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd, which has been stopped from mining in the area by the Supreme Court since 2005.
The NTCA was set up in 2005 on the recommendation of the Tiger Task Force set up by the prime minister to reorganize project tiger management.
According to the last census of 2011, Karnataka has an estimated 300 tigers in its reserved forests, displacing Madhya Pradesh as the state with the largest number of wild cats.