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Karnataka: Heli tourism criticized by environment activists, Mysuru royal family; here is why

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Karnataka Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had made a statement last month that they wish to begin heli-tourism in the state with development starting from Mysuru soon. Representative Image

The Karnataka tourism department rolled out a plan to promote helicopter tourism in the state and the project was to begin with Mysuru. However, there are some controversies following the objection to this project by environment activists and the royal family of Mysuru as they questioned the proposal to cut trees for the project. The IE report highlighted that there are over 150 trees that will be cut in front of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. These trees are spread over 4 acres of land in Kurubarahalli. However, the axing of these trees is being objected to and more than 73,000 people have signed up an online campaign against it.

Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, who is a member of Mysore royal family, has written a letter to the Conservator of Forest, Mysuru division, which sought attention to a writ petition that she had filed in the Karnataka High Court back in 2020 where the court held that the property in Kurubarahalli is a private property.

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Wadiyar said that considering the court’s judgment, axing the trees in the proposed area is unauthorised and can be considered as trespassing. She urged the department to drop the unauthorised activity else she “will be constrained to take steps” in order to safeguard her interest to save the trees from being felled.

Karnataka Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had made a statement last month that they wish to begin heli-tourism in the state with development starting from Mysuru soon. Apart from this, the state tourism department is considering other regions in the state- Belagavi, Bengaluru and Kalaburagi. According to the minister, helicopter tourism has been a dream for long and therefore, concerned officials have been directed to make arrangements for the development of a helicopter terminal in Mysuru. These rides are expected to be offered at affordable costs.

However, environmental activist MK Saptha Girish believes that the construction of the helipad next to Lalit Mahal is not viable, may fail to attract tourists to the city and is not good for sustainable development. Girisj said that the 60 acres of land host vegetation as well as 40 species of host plants where more than 180 species of butterflies can be found. Here, the State Butterfly, the Southern Birdwing can also be found which is known as the biggest butterfly in India.

Apart from this, the area is home to other rare species including Malabar Banded Peacock, Indigo Flash, Scarce Shot Silverline, Common Shot Silverline, Red Flash, Lime SwallowTail, Red Helen, Western Striped Albatross, Striped Pierrot, and more.

To be sure, the Forest department of the area has now sought public opinion and objections in this regard can be brought forward till April 23 this year. This decision has been made as the Karnataka Tree Conservation Act case 8 (3) states that if there is a need to cut more than 50 trees, public opinion will be invited and taken in consideration.

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