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Levy Cess On Tourism Activities To Develop Protected Areas: MoEF
June 07, 2011

 Levy Cess On Tourism Activities To Develop Protected Areas: MoEF


7 June 2011

Shweta Kamat, Panjim:

Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) has recommended imposing ‘Local Conservation Cess’ (LCC) on all private tourism activities near protected areas with a condition that revenue earned would be spent on development and management of that areas.

Recent draft guidelines for ecotourism in and around protected areas released by MoEF, ask state government to levy local conservation cess as a percentage of a total turnover, on all privately run tourist facilities within 5 kms of boundary of a protected area.

MoEF has directed state government to determine rate of cess and accordingly notify LCC on or by December 31, 2011. “The monies thus collected should be earmarked to fund protected area management, conservation and local livelihood development, and not go to State exchequer,” the guidelines read.

The Ministry has said that rationale for LCC should be clearly explained to public at large, including through clear signages at local tourist facilities.

This is perhaps for first time that such detailed guidelines are being issued by Ministry towards development of ecotourism in and around protected and eco sensitive areas.

These directives and guidelines for ecotourism are applicable to any protected area, whether rural or urban, including National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, community reserves, conservation reserves, sacred groves, or pilgrimage spots located within protected areas and forested areas.

Recent draft forest policy of Goa has also laid emphasis towards development of ecotourism, to attract large section of tourist towards wildlife. The policy has been kept open for public suggestions “In recent years, mushrooming of tourist facilities around protected areas has led to exploitation, disturbance and misuse of fragile ecosystems. It has also led to misuse of the term ‘ecotourism’, often to the detriment of the ecosystem, and towards further alienation of local people and communities,” MoEF said.

The Ministry has directed state government to develop a State-Level Eco-tourism Strategy, a comprehensive plan, which will include wilderness conservation in ecologically sensitive landscapes, local community participation and adequate monitoring and evaluation of impact of ecotourism activities.
Government has been directed to notify strategy by December 31, 2011, and put the same in the public domain, in the local language also.

At the same time Chief Wildlife Warden has been asked to prepare site-specific Ecotourism Plan for each protected area and must be placed before public domain on or before the end of 2011.

Formation of State Level Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister for quarterly review on the recommendations contained in the State-level Ecotourism Strategy will also have to be formed.

The committee should also have representation from local communities that live in and around protected areas, tribal welfare department, Panchayati Raj and civil society institutions.