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| Last Updated:14/11/2018

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Forest dept bans home stay near Gir sanctuary

AHMEDABAD: As part of the new ecotourism policy to be tabled before the Gujarat high court before June 24, the forest department has decided to put a ban on commercial establishments from getting home stay approval within the periphery of the Sasan Gir sanctuary especially in the eco-sensitive zones.

The tourism department, meanwhile, has also ordered a review of permission given to farm houses and guesthouses around the Gir forest.

TOI had on Wednesday reported on how farm houses and guesthouses despite being banned by the high court had been granted approval as home stays by the department of tourism without consulting the forest department. The tourism department went into a huddle after the report was published.

When contacted, the forest department said, the state government has been asked to formulate an ecotourism policy for the Gir sanctuary and submit it to the high court by June 24, wherein the department is likely to ban home stay approval of commercial establishments.

"The department is not likely to permit home stay even if the establishments have only six rooms. The forest department was helpless as these guesthouses and farm houses had the approval of the tourism department, said an official of the forest department.

He adds, "We will be recommending that only genuine home users be able to use the home stay policy. The forest department will not permit home stay for commercial establishments within a two kilometre periphery of Gir."

When contacted, N Srivastava, the managing director of the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat said, "We have set up a third party review to probe the permissions granted to the establishments. They will work in collaboration with a specially appointed committee of the forest department to chalk out the new policy.