Rajahmundry: Authorities of the Forest Department and AP Tourism Development Corporation are developing eco-tourism projects jointly at Papikonda National Park, Hope Island, Coringa Sanctuary, Koruturu and Pocharam for the benefit of tourists to enjoy the picturesque beauty of nature and wildlife in Godavari districts.
As part of the projects, the authorities intend to develop cottages to accommodate the tourists and provide amenities for them at the above mentioned places. With regard to Papikonda National Park, the authorities will develop cottages in addition to the existing ones at Maredumilli.
Tourists will be taken for sightseeing, trekking and waterfalls by the trained tourist guides who are the local tribals. The forest officials intend to bring about awareness among the tourists on conservation of wildlife and forests through audio-visual aids.
As part of it, they will display the pictures of animals which are categorised as endangered species and lay stress on the importance of protecting them. They will also display the pictures of other animals found in the national park. The authorities have noticed the presence of two Royal Bengal tigers, one of them pregnant in camera traps in the park and they also found the presence of panthers along with other wild animals in the park.
Local tribals who are the members of Eco-Development Commit-tees under Community Based Eco-Tourism projects will be engaged to guide the tourists. At Coringa Sanctuary at Chollangi, the authorities have set up a 2.2 km length wooden board walk in addition to the existing one for the tourists to walk on through the grown trees and bushes with marshy land in the ground and spotting the wild animals and birds.
Tourists can enjoy ride on pedal boats in the creek and also sail on speed boats in the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal. At Hope Island, cottages will be set up soon and the forest authorities organised an awar-eness drive to the public on conservation of Olive Ridley turtles from March 20 to 26.
Tourists sailing on Godavari river to visit the popular tourist destination of Papikon-dalu can also visit Koruturu and Pochavaram as the authorities are developing amenities.
Divisional forest officer (wildlife) V. Prabhakar Rao said, “As the state government wants to promote eco-tourism in a big way in Godavari districts, we are developing several projects and providing amenities in addition to the existing ones at some places for the benefit of the tourists.”
i) Public sector majors like NTPC and ONGC have come forward to fund eco-tourism projects. NTPS contributed Rs 4.5 crore for conservation of Olive Ridley turtles recently.
ii As part of community based Eco-Tourism Projects, Eco-Development Committees of Coringa Sanctuary at Chollangi, earned revenue worth Rs 40 lakhs through promotion of tourism.
iii) Similarly, EDCs of Maredumilli also earned revenue worth Rs 40 lakhs.
iv) Forest authorities have set up base camps comprising local tribals for conservation and protection of forests and wildlife. The tribals also keep watch on forest fires and ensure supply of water to the wild animals during summer.