Enlightened tourism is need of the hour to protect geodiversity, says INTACH Visakhapatnam chapter convenor

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‘Heritage sites cannot be destroyed in the name of tourism and tourists should be educated about the geoheritage, geodiversity and biodiversity’

‘Heritage sites cannot be destroyed in the name of tourism and tourists should be educated about the geoheritage, geodiversity and biodiversity’

The place where we live, the places that we visit and the food that we eat, has its roots in geodiversity in some form. But rarely do we think or look into the past to understand its connection to geodiversity, said D. Rajasekhara Reddy, convenor of INTACH, Vizag chapter.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said keeping that in view USESCO has decided to observe October 6, as International Geodiversity Day, and this year will be the first year, when we would observe the day, globally.

Being a geologist and former professor from the Department of Geology, Andhra University, he said, geodiversity is everywhere. “If we consider the beach stretch from RK Beach to Bheemunipatnam, we can classify the stretch into four segments that have potential geodiversity features,” he said.

At Bheemunipatnam, we have the Gosthani river merging into the sea and it can be classified as Estuarine Beach, which has its specific geophysical features. The surface features of Bheemunipatnam beach differs from the Thotlakonda beach, which is classified as Rocky Beach. Thotlakonda Beach has many wave-cut features such as the natural rock-cut bridge. The Tenneti park beach is a paleo wave-cut platform, as the beach might have sunk millions of years ago from the adjoining mountain level and the RK Beach is a sandy beach, he said.

According to him, many do not know about these features and their importance. He also pointed out that the creation of a park at Tenneti park or cutting down mountains to build structures, without understanding the geoheritage importance, is a faulty way of doing something in the name of development.

“We must learn to strike a balance between development and preservation, as geodiversity is directly linked to biodiversity and the authorities concerned should understand that the ‘present is the key to the past’. If we can understand the past, it is a window to the future,” he said.

The geologist also said tourism cannot be developed at the cost of destroying geodiversity. Eastern Ghats is 1,600 million-years-old. The Borra Caves is around 1,300 million-years-old and the volcanic ash deposit in Araku valley is at least 74,000-years-old, which had travelled all the way from Toba island of Indonesia. These sites cannot be destroyed in the name of tourism and that is why UNESCO is promoting ‘enlightened tourism’, as every place is unique in its way. The idea is that tourists should be educated about the geoheritage, geodiversity and biodiversity, he said.

Speaking about INTACH, he said that the trust has over 4,000 schools as members and some operate heritage clubs. INTACH also has 227 chapters across the country and the schools come under Heritage Education and Community Service. INTACH Heritage Academy also offers certificate and diploma courses.

Exhibition

As part of Geodiversity Day, INTACH and Andhra University are holding an exhibition at the Department of Geology showcasing ancient rocks, fossils and features of geodiversity on Saturday. On October 2, a clean-up programme at Erramatti Dibbalu and a geoheritage walk at the same place will be organised in association with the Eastern Naval Command. On October 1, geologist Dhananjay M. Mohabe will be conducting a zoom meeting on the theme ‘Story of Indian Dinosaurs’. The details can be had from the website geodiversityday.org

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