IN A significant decision, the state Cabinet on Tuesday cleared a proposal to constitute Uttar Pradesh Eco-Tourism Development Board for development and management of tourism infrastructure facilities in the permissible area outside the forest sanctuaries of the state. The board, which will be headquartered in Lucknow, will have Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as its chairman.
The members of the eco-tourism development board will be of two types: Government (ex-officio) members and special duty members. Agriculture Minister, Forest Minister, AYUSH Minister, Finance Minister, Tourism Minister, Irrigation Minister, Rural Development Minister, Chairman Uttar Pradesh Forest Corporation, Chief Secretary, Principal Chief Conservator and Head of Department will be members of the board and Additional Chief Secretary/ Principal Secretary/ Secretary will be member secretary of tourism board. Additional Chief Secretary or Principal Secretary Environment, Forest and Climate Change would act at the coordinator.
Representatives of IRCTC, Sashastra Seema Bal Uttar Pradesh, World Wildlife Fund India, Bombay Natural History Society, Turtle Conservation Fund, Katarniaghat Foundation, five nominated environment and tourism experts, will be part of the board as special invitees. In addition, two other reputed institutions working in the field of environment as special invitees will be selected for every two years.
The eco-tourism executive committee will be headed by Chief Secretary and Member Secretary (ex-officio), Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary, Tourism (for wildlife protected areas and forest areas) and Member Secretary Director General Tourism (for various tourist places/remaining areas of the state outside the forest area).
The Executive Committee will be responsible for the action required to meet the objectives of the Eco-Tourism Development Board.
The Eco-Tourism Development Board will facilitate carrying out of activities such as trekking, hiking, cycling, Caravan tourism, seaplane and river cruise, adventure tourism along with undertaking development of hotels, resorts and infrastructure facilities, ballooning, jungle camping and also wellness tourism such as Ayurveda, Yoga, naturopathy for the development of the eco-tourism sector.
Uttar Pradesh has a forest area of around 16,582 sq km. The state has one national park, 26 wildlife sanctuaries, of which 12 are bird sanctuaries.
Apart from this, state has nine eco-tourism circuits including Western Wildlife Circuit, Brijbhoomi Wildlife/Wetland Circuit, Eastern Wildlife Circuit, Tiger Circuit, Bundelkhand Circuit, Vindhya Forest Circuit, Ganga Basin/Earth Ganga, Western Ornithology/Wetland Circuit and Central Arnitology/Wetland Circuit etc.
Then there is Salkhan Fossil Park in Sonbhadra, Mukkha Water Fall in Sonbhadra, Rajdari and Devdari Water Fall in Chandauli, Jarga Dam Chunar and Surhatal in Ballia etc. The state also has 10 Ramsar sites (Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary, Haiderpur Wetland, Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Parvati Agra Bird Sanctuary, Saman Bird Sanctuary, Samaspur Bird Sanctuary, Sandi Bird Sanctuary, Sarsai Upper Ganga River), all of which would be promoted for Eco-Tourism through this board.
Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Jaiveer Singh said, “In view of the immense potential of eco-tourism in Uttar Pradesh, the Uttar Pradesh eco-tourism development board is being formed in coordination with 10 departments including tourism, forest environment and climate change, AYUSH department, rural development, irrigation, urban development, agriculture, horticulture, sports, transport with the aim of making Uttar Pradesh as the top destination for both Indian and foreign tourists.”
An official spokesperson of the government informed that the idea is to lead to economic uplif of businessmen and service providers associated with the tourism industry of Uttar Pradesh as along with the protection of eco-sensitive areas, employment and revenue will increase.
Moreover, in order to conserve, promote and develop ecological sites, local residents are to be associated with this project in the role of guides aiming to create new opportunities for employment generation and increase revenue.
While infrastructure development would also be explored through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), eco-tourism zones, the proposed board would undertake training and booking of guides with the help of the forest department for jungle safari.