AROUND A 100-feet tall watchtower, an amphitheatre, open library, children play area and selfie points are some of the projects which will come up in and around Sasan in Gir forest as part of a makeover of tourist facilities at the eco-tourism hub of Gujarat in coming months.
The Gujarat forest department and the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) have drawn a master plan for beautification of Sinh Sadan, the guest house of forest department in Sasan village, arboretum and birding point and nature park, also in Sasan; the sunset point in nearby Bhalchhel village and Devaliya safari park. The project cost of Rs 30 crore will be borne by TCGL.
The project includes a proposal to construct a watchtower with a height of 30 metre (around 100 feet) at Devaliya safari park. “It will be like a traditional forest watchtower with the only difference being its height. The project is aimed at affording tourists a view of Gir forest from a height,” Dushyant Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle told The Indian Express on Friday.
The plan includes redesigning entry gate No.1 at Sinh Sadan, renovation of reception centre and tourist plaza there, building a Gir orientation centre and extending the existing souvenir shops. In the nearby arboratem and birding point, entry gate would be redesigned and a new souvenir shop would be built. A dedicated children play area would be developed as well a new toilet block will also be constructed.
In the nature park, which hosts school students for nature camps, an information centre would be constructed besides pitching tents for teachers, students and staff. At the foot of Bhalchhel hill, the sunset point, an amphitheatre, food court, hangout zone, selfie point, ticketing building and toilet blocks wold be constructed.
In the Devealiya safari park, entry gate and food kiosk would be redesigned, souvenir shop would be renovated, sitting arrangements would be added in the tourist waiting area and a huge parking space will be developed.
Gir forest and other protected areas spread across Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts are the only natural habitat of Asiatic lions in the world. Tourist footfall at Sasan, from where lion safaris going into the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWS) originate, and the Devaliya safari park has increased manifold after the TCGL highlighted the Gir forest and Asiatic lions in its Khooshbu Gujarat Ki promotional campaign in 2010.
As part of the first phase of the project covering facilities at Sinh Sadan, the TCGL floated tenders for work worth Rs 10 crore on Tuesday.
Jenu Devan, managing director of TCGL said, “We have drawn this plan in consultation with the forest department and the project would be completed in about 18 months,” he said.
The MD added that any green clearances were not required for these projects as they “mainly involve refurbishing and redesigning existing
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