Thursday, May 04, 2017


Banglore Mirror : Niranjan Keggere : Bangalore: Thursday, May 4, 2017.
Work on the Canopy Walk between the picturesque Dudhsagar waterfalls and Castle Rock along the Karnataka-Goa border is in full swing. However, in its eagerness to lure tourists, the State Tourism Department seems to have overlooked the need to obtain permissions when work is carried out inside a wildlife sanctuary.
The Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) has now revealed that neither has it given permission for the project, nor has it authorised anybody to execute it. So, in the absence of permission from the wildlife wing of the KFD, the works inside the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary stands in clear violation of Section 33(a) of Wildife Protection Act of 1972.
The ambitious project that was once touted to be the brainchild of KFD has now been disowned by all the stakeholders. The KFD, Tourism Department and Karnataka Eco-tourism Board are now asking “What Canopy Walk?”
The Karnataka Tourism Department has sanctioned Rs 84 lakh for the project and work has been under way within the Castle Rock range of the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. Even as the project was expected to lure tourists beginning this monsoon, controversy over the project is likely to bring a stop to the entire project.
What makes this worse is, the project has not come to this point without any warning at all. Conservation activists in Uttara Kannada say Chief Conservator of Forests (Canara Circle) under which the project falls had raised objection and brought the issue to the notice of the Chief Wildlife Warden in November 2016. The
CCF in his letter had said, “As the project falls within the area of newly-formed wildlife sanctuary area, it is mandatory to obtain permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden under Section 33(a) of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.” BM accessed a copy of the letter from the Aranya Bhavan.
Further, a RTI inquiry with the Chief Wildlife Warden revealed that Chief Wildlife Warden Office has not issued any approval for the project. C Jayaram, APCCF (Wildlife) referring to the CCF, Canara Circle’s proposal said, “The Chief Wildlife Warden Office has not issued any permission or approval for the canopy walk project.”
It’s quite a surprise that without permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden, work has been going on in the sanctuary.
Reacting to this development, Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge said, “The tourism department is only a promoter of any tourism activity in wildlife area. All these activities will be based on the recommendations of the eco-tourism board. No project is executed by the tourism department. We may have granted the money from our budget but that has been paid to the KFD which is executing the project.”

He said that recently too we have made it clear that we promote only those activities cleared by the KFD.”
Vinay Luthra, Chairman of the Karnataka Eco-tourism Board said, “We have neither been involved with the project nor have we funded the project.”
What could have been Canopy walk project was conceputalised by the Conservator of Forests and Director of Kali Tiger Reserve in 2010 close on the lines of similar trails that are popular in the rainforests of South-East Asia and Latin America. As per the project report, a walking path was built on stilts along the canopy of tall trees at an average height of 30 feet. It was decided to build 233-m-long walk structure covering about eight trees over the trekking route between Castle Rock and Dudhsagar.
While the Tourism Department had granted funds, the KFD was entrusted with the task of providing suitable infrastructure
Visitors would be guided by naturalists and bird experts all through the walk and told about the avian life, flora and fauna of evergreen forests.