NAGPUR: What was meant to be a nature trail for morning walkers has turned into another Botanical Garden or Seminary Hills of the city. The 16-km long Gondwana nature trail in Gorewada reserve forest has been besieged with young couples besides piling plastic waste, shrunk track due to overgrown and overflowing drain water marring its beauty.
The regular morning walkers who used to walk till 4-5 kilometres are now confined to 200 metres after which the trail gets disrupted and is logged with water of a perennial drain. As almost 100 metres of the trail is covered with moss, walkers end up falling at slippery spots. “Incidents of walkers falling after slipping have become regular now. Overflowing of water was common during monsoons but this is for the first time that the trail is submerged off season,” said a regular morning walker Rupinder Nanda.
Though the cost of annual pass for the regular visitors has been doubled, walkers complained that not a single penny is being invested to maintain the trail. “Earlier, the yearly pass was of 50 which was recently increased to 100. In the last one year, the plantations and natural vegetation were trimmed only once around May that too was left incomplete. After walking a kilometre, the trail has becomes so narrow due to dense plantation that it is impossible for more than two people to walk together. Moreover, many -mitras release poisonous snakes near the trail and we always fear that a snake or some other animal might be lurking in the thick vegetation,” said advocate Rakesh Mohod, a regular visitor at the trail since last couple of years.
Visitors also complained of absence of proper monitoring in the reserve forest due to which it has become den of antisocial activities. “Many times people consume alcohol and smoke inside the forest but there is no one to stop them. Van majoors, who are seen once in a blue moon, take bribes from such hooligans instead of restricting them,” said Mohod.
Avid wildlife photographer Aayush Vyas said that he has seen visitors swimming in the lake. “Once I also saw a boat in the lake. Such activities are polluting the water and harming the aquatic life. The entire reserve forest is covered with plastic and is never cleaned by the authorities. Many times the walkers are seen lifting the garbage,” he added.
Another regular visitor Hariom Chandak pointed out that apart from one guard sitting at the ticket counter, no official is present to monitor the forest. “There are no restrictions on what is being brought inside and very less dustbins are placed. The authorities must declare it as a no plastic zone,” he said.