Dehradun: In order to protect the forest and environment of the country, the Environment and Forest Ministry has issued new guidelines on eco-tourism that would stop any further construction over the forest land and would impose a cess on commercial activities within a radius of five km of the protected forest areas.

As per the new guidelines, all the state governments have been asked to prepare the Eco-Tourism strategy by December 31. A Steering Committee-led by Chief Minister of the states will review eco-tourism in every three months.

In the guidelines, it is clearly stated that there are enough guest houses in the protected regions following which no new construction will take place.

For the ongoing activities of private companies within 5 kilometre radius in protected sites, the firms will have to shell out five percent of their turnover on cess.

This money can be used only for conservation and developing the livelihood of locals with an aim to ensure local community’s participation in protecting wildlife and sharing of monetary benefits.

Till now, such arrangements are in place in states like Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh only.

The responsibility of eco-tourism planning has been entrusted upon wildlife warden of the forest department who will seek approval from the state government.

The ministry asked all the state governments to tender their suggestions by June 30.

JPN/Bureau