Tourists trampled over plants by walking or driving their vehicles over them. Thankfully, strict regulatory measures by the community and the Forest Department brought some respite to this World Heritage Site. However, there are all-too-many ecologically significant areas across India, which continue to be decimated by irresponsible adventure seekers.
Off-roading has, for instance, recently caught the imagination of thrill seekers, largely through TV advertisements that seek to win customers by appealing to the adrenaline rush that they crave. Though at a nascent stage in India, several car and bike brands are selling vehicles ‘built’ to take the shocks of driving through rough terrain. Called Off-road Vehicles (ORVs) or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), these cars, motorbikes and even cycles promote the concept of driving through areas such as the sand dunes of a desert, rugged slopes of a mountain or through pristine vegetation in jungles.
The repercussions of such insensitive advertising and promotion can destroy valuable biodiversity. Apart from destroying natural vegetation, the tyres of the ORVs physically damage plants and cause soil erosion causing siltation into waterbodies, thus causing damage to both terrestrial and aquatic life. Continual exposure to heavy off-road vehicles impairs the regeneration ability of vegetation and can eventually lead to natural landscape features deteriorating over time.
The off-road use issue is not just rest