AIMING to turn Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali to an international tourist destination, the Maharashtra government will tie-up with the Belgium government, officials said. The partnership would help draw foreign visitors, mainly Europeans, to the national park, and also bring in technical expertise to improve the area, conservation and facilities, officials said. A delegation from the Maharashtra government is expected to travel to Belgium next month to fine-tune the agreement.
Anwar Ahmed, the director of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), confirmed the development. “We are in the preliminary stage,” he said.
The state forest department has already tied up with a German government agency, GIZ, that helped set up the Marine Conservation Centre in Navi Mumbai, which was opened to the public two weeks ago.
According to a senior government official privy to the development at the SGNP, the idea of a tie-up first emerged in February this year when Belgium’s Consul General Peter Huyghebaert visited the national park.
“It was his personal trip. The consul general was very intrigued that the national park was located amid a concrete jungle like Mumbai and several other issues, especially with its boundary and encroachments. An informal conversation is now shaping up to a formal partnership between the two governments,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.
The official added there could be special packages for Europeans that would put the national park at the centre of the city’s tourist circuit. “Technical expertise to improve the upkeep of the park would be important. Officials from Antwerp Zoo in Belgium are going to provide assistance to lift the standards of SGNP. They will provide expertise on safaris and maintenance of the park,” said another official.
In an attempt to reduce pollution in SGNP, 15 battery-operated buses will be launched in June to ferry visitors. The government has procured 300 such buses and soon, no private vehicles would be allowed inside the park.