ANI Photo | Chhattisgarh: Natural beauty, rich tribal culture and job opportunities scripting Bastar’s turnaround, say officials

Incredible natural beauty and rich tribal culture of Bastar are emerging as the driving factors for increasing employment opportunities in terms of tourism and changing the image of this region, which has always been in limelight for Naxalite violence, say officials.
Earlier infamous for left-wing extremism, Bastar is otherwise blessed with dense forests, waterfalls and rivers, making the region a green utopia on earth.
Bastar was once dominated by unemployment and Naxal terror, forcing the local youth to migrate to other states in search of livelihood.
– The News Mill
To make tourism more attractive, Kanger Valley National Park Authority introduced a Kayaking facility on river Kanger.
Spread over about 200 square kilometres, the national park is surrounded by dozens of villages.
As a move to link local youths with employment opportunities, Kanger Valley National Park authority has entrusted them with the responsibility of showcasing the beauty of the place to the tourists and taking them for a tour, said the national park’s director Dhammshil Ganvir.
The authority also provided training to the local youth in this regard. It has also formed a committee comprising over 50 local youths.
– The News Mill
Ganvir said these youths are also operating homestays, wherein the tourists come and enjoy the local cuisines, have a glimpse of forest and wildlife and get the opportunity to understand the local culture.
Giving a unique chance to have a glimpse of this national park from close, the tribal youths take tourists for a tour of the park by Kayaking on the Kanger River.
“The local youth understand nature very closely. They operate Kayaking and narrate the features of the area in a simple manner,” the officer told ANI.
Mansingh, who runs homestays and kayaking, said earlier, people would migrate to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and even Goa in search of livelihood, but now Kanger Valley is providing employment opportunities to the locals here.
Youths here are not just working as nature guides or Maina Mitra, instead, they are playing a vital role in the protection and conservation of this place, he added.
Mansingh said earlier, poaching was reported in the area but the eco-development committee emerged as an effective tool towards its prevention.
– The News Mill
“Earlier, people did not visit this place due to Naxal terror but now tourists from other states and even foreigners are coming here. People can independently stay here any time and enjoy the rich flora and fauna of this region,” Mansingh told ANI.
Attributing the credit of the current scenario to the national park authority, he said the area has immense potential for tourism.
Along with Kayaking, Mansingh said the youth are offering bamboo rafting.
The park’s director Ganvir further informed ANI that the national park is an important biodiversity spot and the administration is making continuous efforts towards promoting tourism in the region.
“Recently, we have just started operating Gypsy in the national park area and the service is being operated by the local unemployed youths. Currently, we have 35 Gypsies and provide employment to 25 guides. Besides, we are promoting the concept of homestay,” he said.
The move to introduce kayaking is attracting positive responses as it offers a thrilling experience as well as an opportunity to get close to nature, said the officer, adding that the authority is exploring other prospects towards promoting tourism.

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