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Akloli, Vajreshwari & Ganeshpuri

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The study is set against the background of the extensive development taking place in the three villages of Akloli, Vajreshwari and Ganeshpuri. No longer conventionally “rural areas”, these villages have been transformed by rapidly growing tourism to their popular religious shrines and pilgrimage centres. The influx of devotees from all over the country places an overwhelming burden on already degraded local infrastructure and environments. While the Government is aware of the tourist importance of the region, local groups feel that their rights, problems and opportunities have not been recognised in local and regional plans for tourist development. In June 2004, the Thane District Collectorate, in consultation with local stakeholders, appointed Sri Chandrashekhar Prabhu to make independent observations on the development of Akloli, Vajreshwari and Ganeshpuri. He recommended that CRIT be appointed as a study group to prepare the development plan. The task, as stated by the Government, was “to initiate a bottom-up process of planning” — to articulate the interests and aspirations of local communities and institutions.

The preliminary study was conducted over fifteen days in July 2004, during which CRIT met and interviewed numerous local stake-holders and community leaders, to assess their opinions on the local planning process. Through visual surveys, the study documents the haphazard develoment of local infrastructure, and degradation of the environment of the village communities and religious settlements. The report of the preliminary study strongly suggests the preparation of a Development Plan for Akloli, Vajreshwari and Ganeshpuri. The study further recommends the implementation of certain infrastructure projects to relieve some of the immediate problems faced by the village communities and religious institutions. CRIT is glad to present the report of the preliminary study, and hopes that the Government agencies undertake responsible activities towards an environmentally sustainable development, which provides economic opportunities to all stake-holders.

 

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