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Ecotourism projects cry for funds

SHOAIB SHAIKH | NT
Staff Reporter

PANAJI
The proposed agro-
ecotourism projects have been held up by paucity of funds in the state. The Investment Promotion Board had cleared two agro-eco-tourism projects, which have run into rough weather due to lack of financial resources.
NV Eco Farm, the first proposal approved by the IPB, has been proposed in the village of Kirlapal in Dharbandora taluka. It has been billed as a confluence of adventure, agriculture, tourism attraction and a pristine holidaying spot at an affordable price.
However, woman entrepreneur and director of NV Eco Farm Smita Patil has said that being farmland generating funds has been the greatest hurdle for the project.
The government has been on high notes on promoting ecotourism and hinterland tourism, but the much needed financial assistance has not been forthcoming for expediting the projects.
The banks have denied loan to the project, Patil said, adding that the state government’s financial wing – the Economic Development Corporation – is yet to take a call on providing loan for the initiative.
“Getting loan for a commercial plot or an apartment is easier than seeking loan for agricultural land despite the land being under one’s ownership,” she added.
Nevertheless, with the resources at hand, Smita Patil and her husband Mahesh Patil have begun carrying out adventure activities in their ancestral property. During the eight months since the beginning of activities more than 2000 people have visited and experienced adventure sports amidst nature.
Of the 65 acres of total property, only 3300 sq. mt of land has been proposed to be developed as built-up area to construct the necessary amenities. Apart from the adventure sports activities, the proposal includes 30 cottages, six yoga pavilions, an ayurveda centre, a restaurant and a dairy shed.
The adventure activities include wall climbing, zip line ride, walking across commando bridges, jumping and crossing the jumping jack and rappelling down a cliff.
The Patils have landscaped their property to include a natural swimming pool by making a provision for a cemented structure at a stream so as to give a different experience for swimmers.
Further ahead into the green forest, a platform for anglers has been proposed to be built to experience and enjoy fishing amidst the green covers of the farm.
Astrology followers visiting the farm are provided with an opportunity to know which tree is preferable to be grown around their surrounding as per the stars and zodiac signs at the nakshatra van or the astral garden.
To cater to trekking enthusiasts, a trekking and walking trail has been demarcated. The farm will offer tourists an arboretum on different species of bamboo, and on a similar platform a butterfly park will be set up within the premises.
Stating that, as a principle, wellbeing of nature and natural surroundings will take precedence over commercial interests of tourism, Smita Patil said, “The underlying focus and philosophy behind the proposed development of the farm is to have a self-sustaining eco-friendly agro-tourism activity that will set an example for any sustainable development of farms elsewhere.”

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