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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anamalai Tiger Reserve reopens for tourism

By K A Shaji, TNN | Nov 28, 2012, 05.18 AM IST Supreme Court lifts ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reservesSupreme Court ban on wildlife tourism in reserves is endangering the ...Supreme Court quashes rape charges against BhandarkarKasab yet unaware of Supreme Court verdictRape victim's testimony enough: Supreme Court COIMBATORE: After four months of indecisiveness, Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) was reopened for 'regulated and low impact tourism' on Tuesday facilitating entry for nature lovers to key attractions like Topslip, Monkey Falls, Chinnakallar Falls, Nallamudi View Point and Meenparai. Lifting of the ban on tourism in ATR also facilitates entry of visitors to Kerala's famous Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, which is accessible only through Top Slip. Tourists can also access Chinnar Water Falls and Panchalinga Aruvi at Thirumoorthy, given that the ban has been revoked. Two forest guest houses located in Sheikalmudi and Sethumadai can also be accessed as the ATR has started implementing fresh guidelines on tourism approved by the Supreme Court. "The Supreme Court has permitted tourism in 20 percent of the core area. In our case, we are just using about six percent of the core area for tourism,'' said the ATR field director Rajiv Srivastava. However, the elephant safari at Top Slip has been discontinued as all the elephants are at the Kozhikamuthi rejuvenation camp. In Topslip, nature lovers can enjoy a 17 km vehicle safari conducted by the forest department. Bookings can be made on the spot at Topslip and advance bookings can be made at the forest office in Pollachi. Three trekking routes have also been resumed at Pandaravara, Manampally and Aliyar. In Top Slip, two dormitories are available with 30 beds. In addition, there are 18 guest houses in tourism permitted areas of ATR. At Monkey Falls, located close to Valparai Road, the department is planning special parking facilities and basic amenities. With the opening of Chinnakallar Falls and Nallamudi View Point, visitors to Valaparai can have access to all its major attractions. Travel operators and home stay providers in Valparai had waged a long legal battle to have both locations exempted from the tourism ban. "We are in the process of ensuring active involvement of traditional forest dwellers in tourism activities. We will ensure community participation in all tourism-related activities and ensure that the benefits of eco-tourism reach the various aborigine communities that live in the periphery of the reserve,'' said Rajiv Srivastava. In ATR, About 40 tribal youths have already been trained in hospitality management and dealing with visitors. Anamalai is set to follow the Parambikulam model of involving tribals in tourism. "Only sustainable, equitable and community-based efforts which will improve the living standards of local, host communities lon the fringes of reserves will be allowed," he added.