Resorts at tourists spots like Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala are open, however, restrictions like Covid curfew and the weekend lockdown are still in place.
Amid fears of the third wave of Covid-19, the Maharashtra government has tightened restrictions at tourist spots like Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala, under which people can stay at resorts and hotels, but have to observe Covid curfew and the weekend lockdown while venturing out.
This has reduced crowding at these places, as people are unsure about the norms and the likely police action.
Earlier, with the advance of the monsoon, tourists had been flocking to the popular destinations, leading to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar expressing concerns over the crowding. Pawar on Friday had directed the administration to take strict action against those violating lockdown restrictions.
“We have put boards at popular tourist spots to inform the public about the applicable restrictions. Also, the local police are keeping a close watch and putting up barricades on the way to tourist spots,” said an official of the Pune district administration.
On Sinhagad fort and Khadakwasla dam, the local police had put up barricades, but tourists streamed in nonetheless over the weekend. “We collected a fine of Rs 84,000 on Sunday from those who were found visiting tourist spots despite restrictions. Last month, a fine of Rs 3 lakh was collected at these two places,” the official said.
The state government has allowed operations of resorts at tourist destinations, but restrictions by local authorities exist on free movement of people in public places. “There are no restrictions on visiting tourist destinations. But the Covid curfew and the weekend lockdown are in place. A large number of people are gathering at these places during weekends. Many plan a one-day tour to enjoy nature. They turn up in large numbers in their private vehicles and leave by the evening,” said Deepak Harane, Regional Manager of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
He said resorts, too, have to abide by Covid-19 safety norms. “We are getting a good response to all our resorts in Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and other places. Tourists can come to stay and enjoy the natural beauty at resorts, even though there are restrictions on visiting public places in the vicinity,” Harane said, adding that MTDC resorts are providing wi-fi facilities so people can work from there.
He said local markets and private resorts at tourist destinations have been hit financially due to the restrictions on free movement of tourists. “The entire state has weekend lockdowns, so business cannot take place in the local markets. The transport service sector is suffering too, as tourists are preferring their own vehicles,” Harane said.
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