Nagpur: In a bid to boost ecotourism in the state, the Maharashtra Ecotourism Development Board (MEDB) on Saturday approved plans worth Rs 195 crore for 29 destinations across the state for 2018-19. The decision was taken at the executive committee meeting of MEDB at Van Bhavan in the city. PCCF and board chairman UK Agrawal, PCCF (wildlife) and other senior forest officials and members were present. According to official sources, a huge sum of Rs 72.53 crore has been approved for ecotourism in Melghat Tiger Reserve, including Katepurna and Dnyanganga wildlife sanctuaries. The board also approved grants to train over 200 guides and naturalists in Tadoba-Andhari (TATR), Navegaon-Nagzira (NNTR) and Pench tiger reserves. The Maharashtra State Pakshimitra Sanghatana has also been sanctioned Rs1 lakh for birds’ meet in Karad from November 23-24. Of the 29 project plans approved, six are in Nashik, seven in Pune, two in Thane, five in Junnar, three in Amravati, two in Chandrapur district and other cities. The funds will be distributed over a period of 3 to 5 years. The board has also approved Rs17 crore for mangrove conservation project in Gorai and Dahisar and another Rs96 lakh for vertical garden by way of oxygen pots. MEDB officials said Rs2 crore will be spent to develop facilities at Udkhed Ganpati temple, besides Rs1 crore for garden at Warora on forest land. In Aheri in Gadchiroli district, Rs5 crore will be spent to develop Hanuman Tekdi (hills). Officials said Hanuman Tekdi and adjoining forest area offers many scenic and pristine sites of tourist interest. The present proposal aims at launching a focused programme of organized ecotourism activities around the three clusters which includes river bank of Pranhita, Gond king palace, and Kamlapur elephant camp and scenic places on way to reaching this place.

In a first, Nashik division will set up a Bhaskaracharya mathematical garden at the cost of Rs14.25 crore in Chalisgaon in Jalgaon district. Most of the ecotourism proposals include facilities for visitors at temple places, forts, and developing forest gardens. In Chandrapur district, forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar hometown, two proposals worth Rs 1.72 crore have been cleared for ecotourism sites at Shengaon and Warora. Senior forest officers including APCFSs Sunil Limaye, Nitin Kakodkar, MK Rao, Vikas Gupta, MTDC’s Prashant Sawai, DFO Shriniwas Madbushi, members Arun Tikhe, Sanjay Karkare, Nishi Mukherjee, Dilip Chinchmalatpure and others were present. Earlier, on February 22, the MEDB had approved tourism plans for 29 destinations worth Rs40 crore. This included permission to bamboo parks and training centre and nursery at Yavatmal on the lines of Wadali in Amravati and tourism proposals in Chikhaldara.