The Gujarat government on Saturday inaugurated a 11-day “Bird Safari Festival” at the Nal Sarovar sanctuary near Ahmedabad that is seeing a 20 per cent drop in the number of visitors during the last four years.
Pradeepsinh Jadeja, the state’s law and justice minister, who took charge of the proceedings at the inauguration event in absence of chief minister Anandiben Patel — who could not make it as she was visiting Navsari to offer condolences to the families of road accident victims — said the new initiative at the sanctuary will help not only attract more bird-watchers to the sanctuary, but will also put Nal Sarovar on the international tourist map.
“It is a new festival at Nal Sarovar… We have been organising various festivals including the Polo festival, Panch utsav, Rannotsav, Saputara festival and Navratri festival. This has contributed in increasing the tourist inflow into the state… The festival at Nal Sarovar will attract bird watchers and put the region on the international tourist map. It will also help create employment for locals,” said the minister about the Nal Sarovar bird sanctuary that is primarily a lake spread over 120 square kilometers and is located about 60 kilometers from Ahmedabad.
According to a release circulated among mediapersons at the event, over 82,300 visitors came to this sanctuary in the year 2011-12. By the year 2014-15, the numbers of tourists fell by 20 per cent. This includes both national and international tourists. In 2012-13, the total of number of tourists visiting this sanctuary fell to 81,400. This dipped further to 75,900 in 2013-14 and 68,100 during 2014-15.
The amount of revenue earned by this sanctuary has also taken a beating. From Rs 19.44 lakh in 2011-12, the revenues rose to Rs 25.30 lakh the next year, before falling to Rs 16.59 lakh in 2014-15.
During the current fiscal the number of tourist visiting Nal Sarovar stands at 57,100 (till January 2016). This year not a single foreign tourist seems to have visited the sanctuary. During the last ten years, the highest number of international tourists visiting the sanctuary was clocked in 2012-13 (251 tourists).
Over 125 foreign species birds visit this sanctuary which has a total of 226 species. It also has 19 different species of fishes.