The Visakhapatnam Division of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Simhadri are collaborating to establish an eco-tourism complex near Ananthagiri, Alluri Seetharama Raju District. NTPC Simhadri approved the proposal for setting up the eco-tourism complex submitted by Anant Shankar, IFS, District Forest Officer, Visakhapatnam. CSR funds would be utilised for providing funding for this project.
The proposed project is for a period of three years with a total budget outlay of Rs 5.50 crores. NTPC Simhadri would be disbursing an amount of Rs 2.50 crores for the first year. In addition, government funds will also be utilised for the grounding of different works at the proposed centre. DFO Anant Shankar informed that this eco-tourism project was conceptualised in order to achieve multiple objectives. The project is proposed under Mission Conserve Eastern Ghats and aims to tap the tourism potential of the serene natural landscape of the tribal agency areas in Ananthagiri.
In addition, it will help generate livelihoods for local tribal communities in the area. The proposed centre will work on the model of Community Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) where the local community is trained to manage the eco-tourism. The local tribal community will be the custodian of the facility in real terms and will derive benefits from their development on a sustainable basis.
The revenue generated from the proposed centre will be used solely for the management of the facility and the surplus amount to be utilised for community development and forest and wildlife conservation works. Another main objective of this proposed eco-tourism project is tackling the menace of podu or shifting cultivation and checking the degradation and destruction of forests by tribal communities. As it is proposed as “eco” tourism, the project aims to generate awareness of environment and forest conservation for the visitors as well as showcase the biodiversity of the Northern Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.
The proposed centre will have eco-cottages, an interpretation centre, a nontimber forest produces (NTFP) processing centre, an open butterfly garden, an orchidarium, a medicinal plants garden and a watch tower. The proposed centre will further utilise the rich NTFPs available in the area such as jackfruit, tamarind (Imli), Terminalia species, and medicinal plants and make processed items from them. Further, efforts will be made to document the traditional knowledge and culture of tribals and showcase them to the public. This centre will be the first of its type in the region and will provide opportunities for tourists and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the Eastern Ghats and to learn about them. The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department will provide skill development training to the tribals and facilitate them in the management of the proposed centre near Visakhapatnam.
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