Lack of proper policy leading to spurt in pvt jungle resorts: Expert

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Bangalore, Feb 25 (UNI) Lack of any national policy and regulatory body has led to mushrooming of private jungle resorts adjoining forest areas in the country which is posing a challenge for conserving biodiversity, especially in ecologically fragile Western Ghats, N D Tiwari, Managing Director of state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd (JLR) said today.

"Karnataka is taking a lead role to streamline a policy to check degradation of forest due to increased tourist activity and there is an urgent need for a national policy. JLR, a pioneer in eco tourism for the past 27 years, has initiated various steps to promote eco tourism and at the same time ensure that the fragile bio diversity is not affected in any way," he said.

Speaking to reporters to brief on the eco tourism seminar titled 'Ecotourism in Karnataka: Challenges, Policy and the Future' organised by JLR here tomorrow, he said through jungle lodges, Karnataka had been receiving a number of tourists from across the world. Eco tourism activities like treks, wildlife safaris, bird watching and Masheer fishing had become very popular. This has resulted in JLR, which now operates 16 jungle lodges, plan to open more properties were in the offing, he said.

He said JLR had been approached by Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab for setting up jungle resorts in those states. A team of JLR experts would shortly be visiting the two states, he said.

With private sector joining the bandwagon there had been a stress on the nature. "The private players are playing by the rules at present. Because more number of people are seeking nature holidays, the pressure on Nature is bound to increase. We need a proper guideline to promote eco tourism and at the same time conserve nature," Mr Tiwari, a specialist in environment management, said.

Thanks to vigorous promotions and marketing, Karnataka, one of the country's pioneer states in eco and wildlife tourism was very popular among travellers. This was possible because of the vast flora and fauna in the state which boasted the major share of 51 per cent of the area coming under Western Ghats known for its bio diversity and ever green forests, he added.

JLR believes that ecotourism was part of forest management and any activity taken under eco-tourism should be with the objective to provide facilities to people interested in nature, converting them to ambassadors of conservation, provide employment to communities and support conservation of natural resources, he said.

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