The ambitious plan of the state Tourism department to recreate the scenes of the blockbuster film Sholay may be shelved by the Forest department.
Vijay Kumar, deputy Conservator of Forests, Ramanagaram, said that development, commercialisation and tourism cannot be allowed around the hillocks of Ramanagaram as they have been declared as a vulture sanctuary. The Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, declares a 10-km area around wildlife sanctuaries as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). Until any official communication is issued by the ministry redefining the ESZ, a 10-km area around the hillocks will be considered a no-development or no-commercialisation zone, he said.
Kumar said that they have also spoken to the Tourism department, but the officials told them that no concrete plan has been prepared yet and the proposal was only in the initial stages. “We have also learnt that the proposal has been drafted by the Ramanagaram deputy commissioner. But, so far, we have not received any communication,” he added. Kishan Singh Sugara, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), too showed no interest in the proposal.
The Tourism department has put forth a proposal to recreate a few scenes from the film Sholay. At an estimated cost of Rs 7.5 crore, the department aims to create a 3D village with the latest audio visual equipment and multiple screens, under public-private partnership.
Kumar added that any commercial activity or increase in human movement will have an adverse effect on the surviving Egyptian and Long-billed vulture population in the region. Though no official census has been conducted, it is estimated that there are not more than 30 vultures remaining on the hillocks which are spread over 346.61 hectares.
Vultures are listed under schedule-1 of the WPA, 1972. The hillocks of Ramanagaram were declared a vulture sanctuary on January 30, 2012. The state Forest department is also planning to create a vulture restaurant on the hillocks to revive the population.
Ramadevarabetta hills are also very popular for trekking and rock climbing. These activities were stopped after the area was declared a sanctuary. “To cater to the interest of the people, we have opened a regulated five-km trek route from the department. But we cannot allow any more development around the area,” said Kumar.