Punjab Forest Department is set to develop three eco-tourism projects in Pathankot and Hoshiarpur as part of its plans to offer unexplored sites to tourists, an official said on Thursday.
The department has prepared a plan to set up an eco-tourism project on the Kulara island near Ranjit Sagar reservoir in Pathankot and two other such projects at Talwara and Maili dam in Hoshiarpur, said the official.
Under the projects, the department plans to set up all-weather huts for camping and develop water sports, nature trails, bird-watching, jeep safari, and nature interpretation centres.
The department is already running similar projects in the foothills of the Shivalik mountain range at Chohal and Thana dam in Hoshiarpur, Dhar in Pathankot, and Siswan in Mohali.
Punjab Forest Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak said the government is taking many steps to develop eco-tourism projects. Forest Conservator (North Circle) Sanjeev Tiwari said, “We have a plan to set up an eco-tourism project spread over 18 acres of land on the Kulara island in Pathankot’s Dhar… We will be developing 20 cottages on the island. There will be several activities including water sports.” Tiwari said that the eco-park in Talwara will accord tourists a view of the entire city from a hill, known as ‘Hawa Mehal’. The project will be spread over an acre of forest land, he said.
“Our aim is to showcase the untouched landscape in Punjab and also create awareness about wild animals and biodiversity,” said Tiwari.
The local community is also involved in the eco-tourism projects and 50 per cent of the profit is spent on the development of a village, said the official.
The forest department has received an overwhelming response to its nature awareness retreat camps at Chamrod village in Dhar (Pathankot) and at Chohal and Thana Dam in Hoshiarpur.
“In the Chamrod project, which is also called ‘Mini Goa’, the department also plans to add paragliding, parasailing and jet skis,” said Tiwari.
The projects will give the tourists a chance to witness wild animals like leopards and deer, and birds like peacocks among other migratory birds, the official said.
In Pathankot, the department has also set up an interpretation centre to create awareness about environmental conservation.