Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Home stay policy at Gir to be reviewed.
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat tourism department, following the notification of July 1 that has brought tourism department's home stay policy around Gir Sanctuary and other protected lion sanctuaries under its ambit, has decided to review all the permissions granted even before the notification was issued.
The forest department in the notification tabled in the Gujarat high court (HC) on Thursday stated that tourism department would have to seek approval of the forest department before giving the final approval.
This effectively means that henceforth, the tourism department before giving any permission for home stay in the periphery of Gir forest including Gir, Girnar, Mitiyala and Paniya Sanctuaries will have to seek the approval of the chief wildlife warden (CWW).
TOI in the article "Gir hotels back as home stay units" dated June 17 had exposed how farm houses and guest houses which were banned by the HC for functioning illegally had been granted approval for home stay by the tourism department without even consulting the forest department.
The HC was hearing a suo motu PIL on an anonymous complaint alleging mismanagement of eco-tourism in and around Gir wherein 128 establishments were found operating illegally.
According to the new notification of July 1 submitted before the HC, any permission for home stays by tourism department will need an approval of CWW. Also, a copy of the permission will be required to be submitted to deputy conservator of forest. Forest officials are also empowered by the new policy to carry out inspections.
"Under this notification, if a person was given permission for maximum six rooms, he wouldn't be allowed to have 20 rooms. Constructing more rooms beyond the permissible limit will face demolition," said a forest department official.
The official added that the department would ensure that no resort or hotel was permitted for home stay as it was done in the past.
"Earlier, when the forest department had no role to play under the home stay policy, we didn't have any powers to inspect such establishments," said CWW, Gujarat, S C Pant.
Gujarat Tourism managing director N Srivastava said, "We are taking no chances and we've asked the third party to review all the permissions and this time, they have to contact the forest department. We will definitely review these permissions afresh."
Srivastava said that the forest department was of the opinion that this time the review would be perfect. He also promised action against those guest houses and farm houses which were operating despite being closed by the HC.