JAIPUR: The quintessential camel safari on the undulating dunes of Jaisalmer may become a thing of the past as wind turbines have taken over the camel tracks from Jaisalmer to Sam dunes. Ironically, despite chief secretary S Ahmad’s instructions on May 1 to stop the work, the turbine installation has only gained momentum. According to sources, “An area of 1890 bigha on the tourist track to Sam dunes was allotted to a Mumbai-based company to set up a 159-MW wind turbine project by the district administration and state revenue department.
While on the one hand, the government is trying to promote rural tourism and two of the 13 selected villages fall on the same track, infrastructural development like wind turbines are a death knell for tourism in Jaisalmer. This would also render hundreds of camel owners who depend on tourism for survival, unemployed.” “Land allotted for the wind mill project traverses through village Kanoi, Khaba, Kuldhara, Damodara that fall on the Jaisalmer-Sam route, which is the only camel safari route left.
There are sites of cultural, historical and archeological importance on this route and once the wind mills come up, it would not only disturb the desert ecology with the sound generated from it but also finish the camel safari route,” Jitendra Singh Rathore, president, Tourism Professionals Association, said. Around 187 towers have already been installed and work is on in full swing, he said. Special secretary, energy, Nareshpal Gangwar, said, “After the CS’s meeting, we had asked the collector to identify villages of archeological, historic and cultural importance with due diligence at the local level. Based on the collector’s recommendations we have prohibited 14 villages with specific khasra numbers where the wind turbine project can’t be installed and investors have been informed.” For access to the turbines, the companies would require stone roads that are 5m (about 16 feet) wide.
Once built, the roads must remain in place for access to carry out maintenance or repairs. They would also need to construct a switch gear house, he said. According to Rathore, “Installation of the turbines would also violate the Supreme Court norms as the allotment of the turbines would fall in the Desert National Park which is a declared eco-sensitive zone. The government can consider installing these further down as there is a lot of land around Jaisalmer-Barmer.” “The state government is promoting non-conventional energy projects and in the entire district there are wind mills generating 1500 MW power.
However, we have asked for the camel safari routes and we will ensure that the upcoming projects do not adversely affect tourism,” Mahaveer Prasad Swami, collector Jaisalmer, said.
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