Himachal Forest Corporation to venture into Eco-Tourism

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    Shimla: Himachal Pradesh State Forest Corporation would be diversifying its activities further by venturing into eco-tourism activities to generate additional income. This was revealed by Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, who is also the Chairman of the Corporation in the 166th Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Corporation held here under his Chairmanship today.
    Chief Minister said that the nature had provided State with bountiful of scenic potential which had been attracting large number of domestic and foreign tourists to visit different destinations and some of them prefer to spend their vacations in close contact with the nature. He said that there was vast potential for the Corporation to venture into eco-tourism activities after successfully experimenting eco-tourism spots at Narkanda in district Shimla and Jalori in district Kullu, which had emerged hot favourite with the nature lovers. He said that the State had valuable and ideally located forest rest houses which number at above 400 and could be utilized to attract visitors to holiday in such locations. He said that the surplus staff with the Corporation could be trained by hospitality industry to manage the rest houses by learning trade skills. He said that additionally such activities would be generating employment and self-employment avenues to the rural youth. He advised the Corporation to include Shojha in Banjar sub-division of district Kullu into the eco-tourism spots by making it functional on priority since required infrastructural facilities had already been created there.
    Prof. Dhumal congratulated the Board of Directors for bringing the Corporation out of the red and making it a profit earning organization. He thanked the Board for its valuable recommendations which had made Corporation perform better. He said that the organization had earned a net profit of Rs. 8.6 crore out of the total turnover worth Rs. 140 crore during preceding financial year while the Corporation had carried business of selling timber, resin and turpentine oil in different market terminals during current financial year and the turnover had been assessed at about Rs. 135 crore which included a net profit of about Rs. 8 crore, as the Corporation had targeted a minimum net profit of Rs. 10 crore at the closure of current financial year. He said that different timber depots and other retail outlets of the Corporation had sold 70,000 cubic meters of timber, 48,000 quintals of resin and 12,000 metric tones of turpentine oil during current financial year upto November, 2010. He said that with the enhancement in the price of resin and turpentine oil rates private owners were benefitted to the tune of about Rs. 2 crore during current financial year. He advised the Management to adopt a long term plan to diversify activities of the Corporation to earn maximum profit.
    Chief Minister lauded the contribution of Shri Avay Shukla, Additional Chief Secretary (Forests) for his contribution in bringing the Corporation out of the red by recommending various initiatives to be taken to earn more income and make functioning more effective. He said that Shri Shukla had been a hard working, honest and practical officer with positive approach. He said that his contribution would be remembered for long time to come. He honoured Shri Shukla with a shawl, cap and memento on behalf of the Corporation and wished him a long and healthy life after attaining superannuation on December 31, 2010.