Forest dept cracks whip on homestays, issues guidelines

Sends circular on dos and don'ts to facilities in Anshi-Dandeli

The Forest department has undertaken the first-of-its-kind initiative to regularise homestays around forest areas and the first step has been taken in Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve (ADTR) in Uttara Kannada district.  

“There are many homestays around the tiger reserve and all guests visit the forest. We want to ensure that they do not litter forest areas and are regulated. This way the safety of guests will be ensured and illegal activities in and around forest areas are curtailed,” Srinivasalu, Chief Conservator of Forests, Dandeli Wildlife Circle, told Deccan Herald. 

There are 40 homestays around Anshi-Dandeli, of which only 20 are registered and located within 5-15 km of the reserve. The registration of the others is under process. During a workshop on homestays in the reserve on November 27, the Forest department issued a circular to all homestays. 

Dos and don’ts mentioned in the circular are: no loud noise and music after 10 pm; no using lights unless essential after 10 pm; do not litter forest areas; no fire camps at night; alcohol and cigarette are prohibited inside forest areas; vehicles should not ply at a speed of above 40 kmph and plastic is prohibited inside forest areas. The circular says that if the rules are not followed, the department will take strict action against tourists and the homestay incharge. 

Based on the success of the initiative in ADTR, the rules will be implemented across all tiger reserves in Karnataka. The initiative has begun in ADTR as Uttara Kannada is the home district of Tourism Minister R V Deshpande. 

The Tourism department is part of the initiative as homestays have to register with them. The Forest department assessed some of the homestays on December 3 and issued warnings to two of them. During the exercise, Forest officials realised that garbage was being dumped in forest patches. This has now been prohibited. 

During the workshop, a demonstration on converting kitchen waste to gas was given. While the Forest department is setting up a unit of 10-kg capacity where waste will be converted to cooking gas, directions have been issued to homestays to instal similar ones to ensure there is no littering. Failing this, entry of guests to safari and inside forest areas will be banned, Srinivasalu said. 

The Forest and Tourism departments jointly issued a check-list to all homestays in the district in November end, seeking details of the number of rooms, visitors, feedback book, log book, LPG connections, waste processing and transport systems. 

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