According to a recently published report in the Bhopal edition of a national daily, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to emulate the African model of private game parks to promote wildlife tourism in the state. The state which boasts of nine national parks and over two dozen sanctuaries also has a huge degraded forest cover area (over 36,000 square km) which will be offered for private investments to set up game parks.
“By inviting private investment, we aim to achieve twin goals of maintenance of habitat and wildlife conservation through ecotourism,” Vinay Varman, CEO of MP Ecotourism Board has been quoted as saying. The state government has already sought the green signal from the Union ministry of environment and forests following which the state government proposes to allocate parcels of 2,000-5,000 hectares to the interested private players. While the operators of these parks will be selected on the basis of a competitive bidding process, there will be some mandatory clauses for compliance – area fencing, creation of waterbodies, grasslands, etc. After basic compliance, operators will be allowed to create amenities for safari and other game park related activities. The state government will assist private operators in shifting wild animals including carnivores species.
As per state government’s plan, while the government will continue to own the land, the private investor will have the leeway to conduct the activities. The deal will also allow him to set up lodge kind of accommodation facility in the nearby zone. Furthermore, the operators will be free to take a call on the fee structure to be charged from the visitors.