For a breath of fresh air

By: Suresh Krishnamoorthy

Lung spaces around urban forests turning into eco-tourism parks.

Driving on the outskirts of a burgeoning concrete jungle like the twin cities, say on the road to Warangal close to Narapalli, one finds a huge entrance that says Bhagyanagar Nandanavanam.

Curious, you stop the vehicle and are surprised at what it is becoming now, an eco-tourism spot. Once inside, the facilities amaze you, more so when you find that you can stroll around the woods adjacent to the eco-tourist spot and breathe pure air. You are not supposed to leave any litter behind here.

There are walkers’ path that actually serve as a fire line too, apart from a cycling trail, an observation tower on a tree with a pleasant view and a pagoda to rest a while.

Other amenities include a small deer park and a pond, kids park, a uniquely-designed open air classroom for children where a teacher comes in on holidays for a class on nature’s bounty, apart from yoga classes.

It’s a part of 24 such locations across Telangana that are identified as ‘forest blocks’, the reserve forest land. They are being conserved as eco-tourism spots to save precious vegetation and to promote what Additional Principal Chief Conservator (Urban Forestry), Rakesh Mohan Dobriyal, says a kind of ‘Back to Nature’ initiative by the Government of Telangana.

Of the 24 such locations, those open to the public include those at Dhulapally, Kandlakoya, Nagaram, Medipalli-II, Suraram, Raigiri-I and II, to name a few. There are at least nine of them on the outskirts of the twin cities and the project has seen the Forest Department spending about Rs. 25 crore on having the amenities in place.

Interestingly, the process of building walls around these urban forest blocks started way back in 2010-11 with the express purpose of protection of reserve forest land from being encroached upon by land sharks.

And down the line, once Telangana became a reality in June 2014, it became an ideal concept to protect the said land/forest and then turn them into eco-tourism spots.

“As of now, we are taking care to ensure that the increased footfall at these locations do not lead to erosion of forest resources by man again,” said Mr. Dobriyal, as his colleague, also an Additional Principal Chief Conservator R. Sobha, recalled how protection of forest land involved protracted legal battles over the years to reclaim the land. Once open for public, all the 24 eco-tourism spots would be day destinations for those keen on keeping in touch with nature.

And officials report that those already open have become popular as the local communities have taken to these natural surroundings like fish to water!

Source: The Hindu

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