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Conserve Nature with Ecotourism

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Vacation holiday travel

Ecotourism as a concept dates back to 1970’s, Ecotourism did not become prevalent as a travel concept till the 80’s. During the 80’s, there was an increase in environmental awareness and a desire to travel to destinations offering natural locations rather than standard destinations offering built up tourist attractions.

Ecotourism is a completely different approach to tourism. Ecotourism is a persevering travel to natural areas to appreciate the natural and cultural history of the environment and ensure that one does not disturb the integrity of the ecosystem and create economic opportunities that make conservation and protection of natural resources advantageous to the local people.

According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects [both of the past and the present] found in these areas is defined as ecotourism. An optimum number of environment-friendly visitor activities, which do not have any serious impact on the ecosystem and the local community and the positive involvement of the local community in maintaining the ecological balance are some of its key elements

Principles of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is all about conservation of natural resources, using local communities and help in sustainable travel. Following are a few basic principles of Ecotourism that needs to be followed by those who implement/participate and market Ecotourism

– Build cultural and environmental awareness

– Minimize social, physical and psychological impacts

– Provide direct financial benefits for conservation

– Provide positive experiences for visitors and hosts

– Deliver memorable experiences to visitors to that help raise sensitivity to host destinations

– Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous people of the local community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

Ecotourism in India

The Ministry of tourism in India has also set a specific agenda to promote tourism in our country in a responsible and sustainable manner.

In recent years, it has been assessed that there is a growing trend towards travel to eco-tourism destinations like National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.

Considering this trend, the government of India had discussions with stakeholders, state governments and the Ministry of Environment and forests under the initiative ‘Tigers – Our National Beauties’ and the stakeholders had raised concerns about growing dangers to wildlife in our National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries due to unplanned growth of infrastructure in these areas which is also affecting the corridors for movement of animals in the parks.

A detailed survey was carried out in different parks. Based on the report, the government decided to include categories of awards for stakeholders to promote and practice Ecotourism. Awards for ‘Best Eco-Friendly hotel’, ‘Best Responsible Tourism Project’ etc. were added in the National Tourism awards and presented annually to the stakeholders.

Jay Kantawala from WIYO Travel commented that “India has the potential to become a competitive ecotourism destination as we have abundant natural wealth. This also helps to develop the socio-economic status of local communities whilst also conserving its biodiversity”.

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India

Taj Mahal entry fee hiked by Rs 200

Visitors who buy the Rs. 50 ticket would not be allowed to enter the main mausoleum, but would be able to move around the Taj and see the rear side, the Yamuna river front at the back.

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Taj mahal

Agra, Dec 10: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday enforced a new ticketing system for the Taj Mahal, aimed at reducing increasing human impact on the fragile 17th-century white marble marvel.

Vasant Kumar Swarnkaar, the ASI chief in Agra, said the new ticketing system came into effect from Monday morning.

According to the ASI, visitors will now have to shell out an extra Rs 200 to enter the main mausoleum with the graves of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Earlier, the domestic tourists were initially paying only Rs 50 only.

Now, the visitors who buy the Rs. 50 ticket would not be allowed to enter the main mausoleum, but would be able to move around the Taj and see the rear side, the Yamuna river front at the back.

Foreign visitors will also need to buy the Rs 200 ticket in addition to the Rs 1,100 entrance fee.

The visitors from SAARC countries will have to pay Rs. 740 instead of Rs. 540.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute had originally suggested two tickets, to help reduce the number of visitors to the main structure.

The tourism industry has not appreciated the increase, fearing this step could hit arrivals.

The Taj Mahal is considered one of the finest specimen of the Mughal architecture.

In 1983, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”

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Beside comfort and high speed, India’s Train 18 also to be fire-proof

“As compared to steel coaches these coaches are more durable and due to light weight these trains easily accelerate and decelerate.”

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Train 18

Train 18, developed indigenously by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), offers not only a fast and comfortable mode of transport. The engineless train also provides safety to passengers as its coaches are fitted with fire-resistance fibre composites.

“The interiors of the coach have been made up of composite materials, which are fire resistant,” ICF General Manager Sudhanshu Mani told IANS over phone from Chennai.

He said the interiors were manufactured in the country and the ICF gave sourced the fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) from manufacturers in Chennai. “After the manufacturers delivered the FRP materials, it was fitted into the Train 18 at the ICF plant in Chennai,” he said.

The ICF General Manager said that all the panels inside the Train 18 coaches are built with composite material.

A senior railway ministry official said that the FRP has been used in the Train 18 sets to make it more power efficient and light weight which enable the train to move faster as compared to other train sets currently in service in India.

The official pointed out that the FRP materials are very light as compared to those made of steel and aluminium.

Train 18 is currently undergoing trials under the supervision of Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow. It has successfully completed the trial upto a speed of 180 kmph.

The official said that Train 18, which is self-propelled on electric traction like metro trains, will start replacing the existing train fleet of the Shatabdi Express next year.

As per the railway ministry plans, the ICF will make six such train sets, out of which two will have sleeper coaches.

The new train has a number of features to enhance passenger comfort which include inter-connected fully-sealed gangways, automatic doors with retractable footsteps, onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment, GPS-based passenger information system, modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems, rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel (available only in the executive class), roller blinds and diffused LED lighting, and disabled-friendly toilets.

Pavwan Droliaa, Managing Director of Asterix Reinforced Limited which manufactures composite materials, said that the material used inside Train 18 coaches not only makes it light but also improves its power efficiency.

“As a lightweight, high-strength, environment-friendly product, it helps in reducing the overall weight of the train coach by about 50 per cent as compared to any other train coaches,” he said.

Explaining the advantages of the composite material in the Train 18 coaches, he said that it also gives freedom of design, to make all kinds of interior and exterior parts and it also allows use of aerodynamic exterior parts, to reduce the energy consumption of the train.

He said that in case of fire these composite components do not generate poisonous gases, collapse, or spread molten material or droplets, thus keeping escape ways open for passengers to get out.

A Selvam, Executive Secretary at FRP Institute in Chennai, said over phone said that the composite material helps in reducing the maintenance costs of the railways.

He pointed out that the Indian Railways has started using modular toilets in the train made up of composites. Selvam also said that the composite material can be used for making high strength seats for train coaches.

Selvam pointed out that the composite material also aid in the dampening of vibration to reduce noise levels and improve passenger comfort.

He said, “As compared to steel coaches these coaches are more durable and due to light weight these trains easily accelerate and decelerate.”

“The composite material can also help in reducing a number of small parts as these are combined and moulded into a single piece,” Selvam added.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Train 18 likely to be launched on Dec 25 between New Delhi-Varanasi, with increased fare

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Train 18

Onboard Train-18 (Kota), Dec 3 (IANS) With the Train 18 speeding up to 180 kmph between Kota Junction and Kurlasi station during a trial on Sunday, efforts are on to launch the first indigenously-built Trainset on December 25 from New Delhi to Varanasi.

“Christmas Day also happens to be the birthday of late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and it would be a tribute to the great statesman of the country if we manage to launch the next-generation train on that day,” a senior Railways official told IANS.

Since the input cost of the Rs 100-crore train is high, the fare structure will be also be higher than the normal fare.

However, the official added that the decision on its launch date and fare are yet to be taken as the trial is not yet complete.

According to the tentative plan, the train will start from New Delhi station at 6 a.m., and is expected to reach Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, at 2 p.m.

For the return journey, the train will start at 2.30 p.m., from Varanasi and reach the national capital at 10.30 p.m.

It was a thrilling experience onboard Train 18 during the various trials on Sunday — including a speed run on a straight track, speed test on one degree curve at 150 kmph, and two degree curve at 140 and 150 kmph — on 113 km stretch from Kota to Kurlasi under the watchful eyes senior Railways officials as well as those from the national transporter’s Research Design and Standards Organisation.

Ladoos were distributed in the train when it clocked 180 kmph. The first sweets were offered to loco pilot Padam Singh Gurjar and his assistant Onkar Yadav.

“We are quite excited to be part of this great occasion,” Padam Singh told IANS after having the sweet.

“I feel proud to be part of this historic trial,” added Yadav.

It was a smooth ride for those inside — occupying rotating seats to match the direction of the train – as the Train 18 became the first train to touch such high speeds on the Indian rail network.

The train started its trial run at 9.30 a.m., from Kota and returned to the junction at 6 p.m., after negotiating several rivers, bridges and curves.

The Trainset does not require a locomotive as it is a self-propelled on electric traction, like metro trains.

Now the Trainset has to undergo what is called a long confirmatory run and also test its emergency braking distance before it gets a clearance from the Commissioner, Railway Safety (CRS) for commercial operations to commence.

“We are expecting the trials to be over in a week and after that we will seek CRS clearance,” said the official.

Although the speed touched 180 kmph during Sunday’s trial run, the Train-18 will only be allowed to run at a maximum speed of 160 kmph in its commercial operations.

After the successful completion of 115 kmph test run on the Bareli-Moradabad section last week, the next-generation train — indigenously developed at Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory — is required to undergo the 180 kmph trial run here till December 4.

Equipped with world class facilities, the Rs 100 crore Trainset aims to take passenger-comfort to a new level with onboard WiFi, a GPS-based information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points, and a climate control system that adjusts the temperature according to occupancy and weather.

The 16-coach train will have two executive compartments with 52 seats each, and trailer coaches will have 78 seats each.

(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at [email protected])

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