Great Canara Trails behind more red tape

Great Canara Trails behind more red tape

Nature lovers eagerly awaiting the opening of the Great Canara Trails along the Western Ghats will be bitterly disappointed as the project is hit by further delay.

The state government had assured that the trails would open in 2015, but it was put off despite the tourism department evincing interest.

The forest department said a stretch of 108 km of the Great Canara Trails and Eco Trails would open in August this year, but that also  did not materialise.

Now, the National Tiger Conservation Authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forest has asked for a report on the route carrying capacity and sensitivity of the Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR) along the Great Canara Trails.

A team had  subsequently been formed with the chief conservator of forest (CCF) as its head to conduct the assessment in January. But the identity of the CCF or the members of the team have  not been revealed to the officials in Karnataka.

The team's report will be shared with the ministry and the head of the Karnataka forest force, and the decision will be made to allow the trail on the basis of its findings.

KTR director O Pallaiah told DH that he has no information on the members of the team, which would conduct  an impact assessment study of the trail.

Besides carrying capacity, the team would examine the species en route the trail, including endangered plants and other ecological aspects.

While small trek routes and trails are open in other forest patches like Kudremukh, BRT, Sakleshpur, Madikeri, Bandipur and Nagarhole, Pallaiah said none had been open in KTR, prompting the staff to keep a strict vigil on the reserve.

While it has been proven that areas with tourist movements do not witness poaching or forest fires, KTR does not have trails even in its tourism and buffer zones, the director said.

One of the longest in India, the Great Canara Trail was proposed by the Karnataka State Eco-Tourism and Development Board in 2014 to encourage people to leave their safari jeeps and walk along the green canopy.

A detailed project report was prepared and presented to the Centre in 2015, but the project has been stuck without clearances.

The 25-day trail proposed to have 17 camps and cover some parts of the eco-trails, offering a day-long small treks, covering a distance of 10 km.

It starts from Jog Falls and proceeds along Garuda Jog via Katlekan, Hunchahalli, Devimane Ghat, Shivaganga falls, Ganesh Falls, Bedti River Valley, Lalguli, Kali River, Shivapura (in Anshi), Ulavi, Kumbarawada, Kuveshi, Diggi and Castle Rock.

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