The Raigad district administration allowed to reopen the Karnala bird sanctuary in Panvel after two-and-a-half-months for the tourists on Saturday. More than 1200 people visited on the weekend. The bird sanctuary was closed on April 15, following a lockdown was imposed by the state government.
However, visitors will have to follow the basic COVID norms inside the bird sanctuary. The place is popular among visitors and on weekends it sees huge footfalls.
Pradeep Chavan, range forest officer (RFO) of the bird sanctuary said, “The sanctuary will be open for visitors from 7 am to 4 pm. However, no one will be allowed to enter after 3 pm”, adding, that visiting the Karnala fort, which is inside the forest, will not be allowed after 1.30 pm.
According to an official, on Saturday, a total of 309 and on Saturday, 973 people visited the bird sanctuary. “We ensure that visitors must adhere to the COVID protocol and wear facemasks and maintain social distancing inside the sanctuary. They are not allowed to touch or feed the birds and the animals”, said another official, adding that action will be taken against violators.
Nidhi Chaudhary, the district collector took the decision to reopen the bird sanctuary after the number of active cases came down in the district. The bird sanctuary sees huge footfall during peak season in November and weekends also.
Karnala bird sanctuary is located along the Mumbai-Goa highway, around 10 kilometers away from Panvel city. During a counting conducted in December, a total of 103 species of birds were spotted at the sanctuary. The entry fee at the sanctuary is Rs 35 for each visitor.