Green passport for trekkers?
You read that right!
Karnataka’s forest department will soon issue a green passport for trekkers. Similar to how the entire concept of a passport works, each time you complete a trek, your green passport will get a stamp acknowledging the completion of that particular trail.
Each passport will have a unique number assigned to it. Adding more to the excitement, once you complete the entire trail, a certificate of activity will be awarded to you by the forest department.
Also, the department is all geared up to launch its guided tour programme, which will include some of the best eco-trails around Bengaluru.
With many youngsters having lost their lives while hiking on illegal routes, the initiative by the department opens up the scope of not just for promoting tourism but also an effort to end illegal trekking.
“The move is to encourage youngsters to come closer to nature and put an end to illegal treks in the woods,” Vinay Luthra, who is the chairman of Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board (KEDB), told TOI.
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He also mentioned that within the Western Ghats region alone, 11 eco-trails have been identified and the concerned authorities have already been notified. Places like Chikkaballapura, Tumakuru and Ramanagara will soon follow suit.
Reportedly, only the date for the launch of the initiative remains to be finalised by the state’s Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology, B Ramanath Rai.
According to TOI, an official in the department informed that close to 10-12 eco-trails would be part of the programme within Bengaluru. Few of these include Savandurga forests in Magadi, hillocks around Nandi Hills of Chikkaballapura and Timlapura forest stretch in Tumakuru. Each of these trails spanning from 7km to 14km can be trekked within a day itself.
All the eco-trails will have a fee charged by the forest department, ranging between ₹500 to ₹1,000. Recruiting around 30 guides, who are mostly youngsters from the local area, the initiative seeks to to provide them with a livelihood.
Putting an end to illegal trekking has indeed proved to be a drudging task for the department. “At present, most trekking that happens around these locations are illegal. Very few take permission from the department. Green passports will regularise trekking adventure. The department will also frame a set of guidelines for trekkers,” said another official.
You can reach out to KEDB at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 080 2344 8822.