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Safe Dalma sleepover under the stars

- Tourist rush prods plan of four overnight stay cottages at Makulakocha entry point

Large-hearted Dalma hills will soon offer more hospitality to visitors.

Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary authorities are preparing an estimate of four new tourist cottages at village Makulakocha on the foothills, 18km from Jamshedpur, to welcome the influx of visitors that have crossed the 15,000 mark this year.

Numbers are sharply up from nearly 12,000 last year and around 6,500 in 2010, a testament to Naxalite fears having subsided in the region.

Existing hospitality infrastructure — two bamboo huts and four tiled ones in Makulakocha for daytime visitors and a two-unit hilltop tourist lodge that offers overnight stay options — is proving inadequate to deal with the inflow.

These proposed cottages would have overnight stay options, said sanctuary range officer Mangal Kacchap.

State forest and environment department will fund the cottages, the budget for which is expected to be Rs 30-35 lakh. Construction will start from January 2013.

“Each cottage will be a separate entity. Add-ons likely are parking space for vehicles and fountains,” said the range officer.

More than fountains, what each cottage needs are basics — washroom and resting facilities, a functional kitchen or readymade food option that tourists, bone tired after a trek would appreciate, emergency first aid and new-age necessities such as electrical power points to recharge mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras.

What is good news is this 193.22sqkm wildlife sanctuary on NH-33 is back in the news for what it stood for all along — breathtaking beauty of high hillocks, plateau, deep valley and open fields, providing diverse habitat for flora and fauna.

From trees like jamun, kendu and karam, to animals such as elephant, leopard, barking deer, sloth bear, monkey, giant squirrel and others, the sanctuary had been an ecological pride and muse till rebels took over.

Now, flora, fauna and nature buffs are again reclaiming the beloved green hills.

“We have tourists from Jharkhand and neighbours Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Foreign tourists also turn up, but their numbers are very small now. As eco-friendly infrastructure increases and positive perceptions get more publicity, their presence will grow,” he said.

Separate from the hospitality infrastructure creation is an eco-tourism project under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) scheme at Makulakocha, which includes a natural trail for visitors guided by youths handpicked from the 90 surrounding villages.

Good times however come with a statutory warning.

Environmentalists speak of the need to construct eco-friendly amenities and check tourism so that it does not infringe on the privacy of the natural habitat of flora and fauna.

Simply put, tourism is fine till the elephant and the karam tree are fine with it.

Will you feel secure about spending the night at a Dalma cottage? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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