Glass walkway near Amravati to provide thrilling experience for adventure tourists from mid-2023 | Bombay News
MUMBAI: For adventurous tourists, one of the longest glass paved (transparent) walkways (407m) over the Chikhaldara Valley (590ft deep) in the Melghat Tiger Reserve near Amravati will offer an exciting experience from mid-2023.
After the MoEF granted its first clearance in January, which had been pending for a year because the entire area is a forest reserve, the proposal is ready to gain clearance from the CM-led state wildlife board.
This glass promenade could be the second in the country after the first in Sikkim and probably the longest than those that exist in (360m) China and (397m) Switzerland. The Rs35-crore project in the valley is part of the eco-sensitive and buffer zone of the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR).
According to Devendra Jamnikar, Cidco’s executive engineer for the project, it will be the world’s first single-cable suspension bridge (skywalk) with a 100-meter-long glass covering. He said the project, which is half built with piers at both ends of Chikhaldara valley (Hurricane point and Goreghat point), has finally cleared the first hurdle in achieving deforestation in the land of tigers. The mega project will soon undergo clearance from the center wildlife once it gets the same from the state wildlife board.
According to sources, Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray persuaded the center to get permission from the MoEF.
Cidco awarded the contract for the project to Apicon Construction Company which had started work in February 2019. According to Cidco officials, the middle part of the project will be a 100-meter glass floor while the rest of this 407-meter bridge long will be developed with checkered steel plates to allow the passage of air. Chain link fencing will be installed on both sides of the project. Two counter-anchors are provided next to two large pillars to support the weight of the bridge. The proposed footbridge will be able to withstand winds of up to 190 km/h.
According to the environmental conditions, Cidco deposited Rs81.86 lakh for net present value (NPV), compensation land and reforestation cost. More than 70% of the civil works have been completed at the top of the Chikhaldara valley, which is a revenue land. “We expect the wildlife to be cleared before the onset of the monsoon. Once we start work in October, it should be finished by July next year for the tourists who visit in large numbers. Melghat/Narnala Tiger Reserves,” Jamnikar said.
According to sources, Cidco may have to deposit an additional 2% of the project cost for wildlife habitat management practices. Most of these projects in other countries are double cable bridges while Chikhaldara will be single cable. “Chikhaldara is the only hill station in Vidarbha (near Nagpur, Amravati, Akola) and nearby Marathwada region (Aurangabad, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad) and as it is close to Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg, the project has enormous potential to stimulate tourism and direct and indirect employment through tourism.
“We expect tourist attendance to more than double once the project is complete,” Jamnikar said. During the tourist season – monsoon and winter – around 20,000 tourists visit the tiger reserve every month. Cidco has already spent over Rs25 crore on the project. The MTR also offers abundant wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls.