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Friday, April 16, 2010

Edition 15- Will you see these places in 2020

If you are packing your bags for the next summer vacation trip, choose your destinations carefully. While the tourism is a growing industry in India, many places are falling prey to the growing number of footsteps of urban tourist. The trend, in line with the globalisation, is evident everywhere in the world. World famous Wanderlust Magazine in its second annual "Threatened Wonders List" has identified eight top travel picks on the earth that have been over-exploited. Most, including the haunting Jordan desert valley of Wadi Rum, made famous in the cinema classic Lawrence of Arabia, are plagued by tourists, poor planning and shoddy security, the magazine said. Closer home, we have the Khadakwasla dam, which provides water to the Pune city. Pollution at Khadakwasla dam, which supplies drinking water to Pune, continues unchecked, with hundreds of visitors to the famous “chowpati” dumping garbage, plastic waste and beer bottles in the lake. And now, with the Pune Municiapal Corporation deciding to develop the site as a chowpatty, there is little hope that civic officials might some day try to stop the degeneration. The dam is “damned” with bathing buffaloes, mounds of plastic cups, bottles, clamorous swimmers, people washing clothes, and some even defecating near the lake. Drinking water is supplied to Puneites from this very dam everyday. India has seen a significant growth in terms of foreign tourist arrivals in the last two years. World Travel and Tourism Council has estimated that demand for India Tourism will grow annually at 8.8 per cent over the next decade, which will be the highest in the world. The impact of urban activities, which include tourism, on the Western Ghat is a matter of concern for the government of India also. The Western Ghats, spread over a 1609 kilometers the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is a reserve of rare species of birds fish reptiles, mammals and amphibians. A comprehensive study on the Western Ghats has shown that each year 0.53% of forest is lost over a 20-year-period altering the ecosystem of the region. The study was a result of research conducted by Rabindra K Panigrahy, Manish P Kale, Upasana Dutta, Asima Mishra and Bishwarup Banerjee of Pune-based Geomatics Solutions Development Group, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and Sarnam Singh of Forestry and Ecology Division, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing at Dehradun. It was carried out under Indian Space Research Organisation's Geosphere Biosphere Programme and has been published in the latest issue of Current Science. This concern lead to the formation of a panel for conservation of WG by government. Centre has set up a 14-member panel, headed by renowned environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, to assess the ecological status of Western Ghats which would enable it to demarcate sensitive zones. The panel will recommend measures for preservation, conservation and rejuvenation of region. It will submit its report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests within six months. As a tourist, one likes the places with clean environs - air, water and scenery which are most sought after by leisure seekers. According to the World Tourism Organisation ( WTO), 'tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects (both of the past and present ) found in these areas is Ecotourism.” Ironically, as most people prefer these sites, more people flock there thereby destructing the very reason behind attraction of that place. Mumbai's water fronts which include the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Haji Ali, Dadar Beach, Bandrastand and the Juhu Beach, have become mere dumpyards , with garbage and sewerage strewn all over these areas. The effects of these rampant activities can be seen in the Monsoon season.The Coral reefs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were facing threat from unchecked human activities like siltation, logging and blasting. These coral reefs serve as a source of potential genetic and other raw materials and attract economically important tourism.

The Manali Case
During the last decade or so there has been a mushrooming of concrete buildings in the form of hotels, industries and lodging houses in eco-fragile areas, poaching of rare marine and wild life with little concern for the environment or aesthetics. This unplanned development activty has had an adverse effect on both environment and tourism. For example, Manali in Himachal Pradesh, an important tourist resort, and a long time favourite with domestic and international tourists. For the past six years, the hill resort has been subjected to unregulated urban expansion which has resulted in the mushrooming of numerous multi-storeyed buildings. The hotels have been discharging sewage into the Beas river causing water pollution. The green area of this township has diminished rapidly, destroying the natural landscape. The pedestrian path has become a regular vehicular road causing air and noise pollution.

World Heritage Sites In India
• Taj Mahal (pollution from industries) • Ellora Caves (pollution) • Agra Fort • Ajanta Caves (pollution) •Mahabalipuram Monu ments (pollution) • Sun Temple, Konark (Erosion of structures) • Kaziranga National Park (pollution) • Keoladeo National Park • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (pollution) • Churches & convents of Goa • Khajuraho Monuments • Fatehpur Sikri • Hampi Monuments (Erosion of structures) • Sunderbans National Park • Brihadisvara Temple Tanjore • Pattadakal Monuments • Elephanta Caves • Nanda Devi National Park • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi • Qutub Minar and its Monuments (Tilting structure) • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (construction of new road) • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway • Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya • Rock Shelters at Bhimbetka • Champaner-Pavagadh Park • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus aka Victoria Terminus.

According to Wanderlust, travelers should avoid Stonehenge -- perhaps the world's most famous prehistoric site and a center for British pagan celebration -- unless they wish to see a carpark and glimpse the stone monoliths from a disappointingly remote viewing area, the magazine said. Avid trekkers should also rethink a trip to Peru's Machu Piccu, which is plagued by trash and encroaching minibus routes. Up to 2,500 tourists a day trample the mountainside ruins, making it impossible to protect against wear and tear. Timbuktu in northern Mali also gets a mention, with British diplomats last year issuing security warnings for the area after the execution of a British traveler by militant group al Qaeda. The river town of Yangshuo in China, beachside Tulum in Mexico and Jaisalmer of India also made the list, along with Australia's evocatively-named Bay of Fires, in south Tasmania state. The bay was Tasmania's "best-kept secret", but was threatened by a massive, recent influx of visitors, to the dismay of Aboriginal elders who claim the 30 km (19 mile) stretch of coast is dotted with sacred burial grounds. Wanderlust offered several alternatives to well-worn tourist tracks for 2010. Zimbabwe's newfound stability was encouraging and wildlife sightings a massive drawcard for the country, it said.Khmer ruins in northeastern Thailand and Madagascar, off Africa's eastern coast, were also hot tips for ecotourists looking for value-for-money, the magazine said.

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