Goa’s travel and tourism industry stakeholders have oppposed the proposed felling of nearly 50,000 trees in two protected forests areas in the state to make way for three central projects.
They pointed out that the move would cause environmental degradation and dampen the prospects of eco-tourism in the state, which attracted nearly eight million tourists last year.
In a letter to Union Ministers for Environment and Forests and Tourism Prakash Javadekar and Prahlad Patel (MoS), the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa urged the duo to reconsider the cumulative impact assessment and rationale of the projects before going ahead with three major projects.
“… we would like to express our concern about the diversion of forest land within and around the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, both prime locations of hinterland and nature-based tourism. We urge you to consider the intersections between environmental degradation and the future of Goa’s tourism sector which is at a crucial juncture,” the letter to Javadekar stated.
“The 2019-2020 tourist season began with unseasonal weather and tropical storms and is now facing the Covid-19 pandemic. This pushes us to strengthen natural capital and ecosystem resilience to strengthen the future of tourism in Goa,” the letter added.
Nearly 50,000 trees located in the Western Ghats aera of Goa are slated to be felled for multiple central government projects, including expansion of railway network and highways and drawing a new high-tension power cable, spread across 185 hectares of forested land, several chunks of which are located in the state’s numerous wildlife reserves.
The projects have already been cleared by the National Wildlife Board in April this year.
The Association has also expressed concern over the “impact that these three projects will have on the tourism industry”. “We would like an impact assessment on the damage done to the protected areas and surrounding forests versus what the connectivity benefits are for the tourism industry, residents and other stakeholders,” the body said.