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    For Forest Department officials, illegal trekking remains a problem in Chikkamagaluru, Chamarajanagar and Dakshina Kannada districts. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

    For Forest Department officials, illegal trekking remains a problem in Chikkamagaluru, Chamarajanagar and Dakshina Kannada districts. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

    Recent arrest of trekkers for violating forest rules shows the kind of confusion in eco-tourism sector

    What starts off as an innocuous desire to explore the lush forests and towering peaks of the State, sometimes ends up as an interrogation by a forest officer or at the local police station. For 18 trekkers from Bengaluru, the experience was all too real when they arrived at M.M. Hills. Organised through a travel portal, they landed in the forests of Chamrajanagar, only to be rounded up by the officials of the Forest Department for illegally trespassing into a wildlife sanctuary.

    This experience, however, is not uncommon, particularly with adventure portals, trekking clubs and informal groups increasing in number to catch up with the demand for trekking.

    “We had no idea that the trek was illegal. As a portal, we rely on the vendors who offer these treks … it is up to them to obtain the required permissions. We relied entirely on the local guide … since there are no boards or signs demarcating revenue and forest land, those in the trek did not know they had strayed into a forest range,” said Pradyot Punj of the portal adventuresome.in, which organised the trek.

    Portals insist responsibility lies on the vendors — locals offering the trek — and participants are made to sign an indemnity contract fixing responsibility of any eventualities on the guides themselves. “After this experience, we will ensure that all vendors have the required permissions. Many organisations are not aware of this,” added Mr. Punj.

    Business-minded

    An increase in for-profit companies over the last two years has seen rampant flouting of rules, says Niranjan Kumar, an avid trekker, who organises hiking outings on a voluntary basis. “These companies tend to rely on locals looking to make a quick buck. We have seen them litter and burst crackers to make it seem like a party for gullible participants. What costs us Rs. 300 to organise will be charged Rs. 1,400 by some companies. It has become less about nature and more about commerce. This gives a bad name to all trekkers,” he said.

    The Kodagu experience

    In Kodagu, which attracts thousands of Bengaluru residents on weekends, the trek through the reserve forest at Thadiyandamol — the highest peak in the district — was proving to be a headache for the officials of the Forest Department. “There used to be night treks offered by coffee plantations and home stays in the area. We have put an end to it by posting a watcher there. Also, boards have been installed to warn trekkers,” said Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Kodagu).

    For Forest Department officials, illegal trekking remains a problem in Chikkamagaluru, Chamarajanagar and Dakshina Kannada districts. The emphasis, instead, is on the Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board to increase the number of trails that are offered legally. “After the monsoons, we will be offering more trails and ensure that trekking and hiking can be done in a regulated manner,” said Vijay Mohan Raj, Additional CEO of the Board.

    No night trek near Bengaluru

    Benglauru may see more hiking trails once the monsoon clouds clear. The Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board has proposed opening of trails such as Skandagiri, Savandurga, and Madhugiri. However, the once popular night treks — done surreptitiously over the years — will remain banned as forest officials emphasise that large-scale human movement adversely disturbs nocturnal animals

    Will an app clear the confusion?

    With eco-tourism, particularly trekking, remaining shrouded in confusion and bureaucracy, the Forest Department hopes to bring in some clarity by launching “myecotrip,” a mobile application.“From zoo tickets to bookings in jungle lodges to trekking trails, this app will allow citizens to directly connect with the nature activity of their choice,” said Vijay Mohan Raj, Additional CEO of the Karnataka EcoTourism Development Board. The app, however, will be launched only in September after the monsoon and when forest trails will once again be open to trekkers.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / Mohit M Rao / Bengaluru – July 13th, 2016

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    The association chose Leander Paes instead, a selection that did not go down well with Bopanna, world No.9 in doubles rankings.

    Rohan Bopanna at Chandigarh Club. He will team up with Paes in the Davis Cup doubles tie against South Korea at the weekend.

    Rohan Bopanna at Chandigarh Club. He will team up with Paes in the Davis Cup doubles tie against South Korea at the weekend.

    It has been a month since the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has turned down Rohan Bopanna’s request of partnering Saketh Myneni in doubles at Rio Olympics. The association chose Leander Paes instead, a selection that did not go down well with Bopanna, world No.9 in doubles rankings.

    On Monday, when asked about the selection, Bopanna played it right down the line. “They have asked us to play together and that’s what we are going to do. When you go out to play, you play as professional players. We just have to go on court and play our tennis and try to gel together on court and try to find a way to win. I have not had a word from anyone. Neither from the federation nor from the player,” said Bopanna, who is in Chandigarh for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea.

    “Whatever I say, it won’t make a difference. That’s not going to change the scenario. We just have to stick with what is happening. Like I said everyday is a new day so we will have to wait and see. Did I have a choice? They did not tell me and I got the information through media,” Bopanna added.

    In the intervening one month Bopanna had been busy playing with regular partner Florin Mergea. They bowed out in the round of 16 at Wimbledon and lost in the same round at the Queen’s Cup.

    With less than a month to go for the Rio Olympics, Bopanna will now team up with Paes against South Korea on the grass courts of Chandigarh Club and the 36-year-old made it clear playing with Paes on the tour is not an option.

    “I cannot get in with Leander to play a tournament. There is no Indian out there with whom I can get in any tournament if I want to train ahead of the Rio Olympics. The cut-off in Washington and Toronto is 50 and there is no Indian ranked high barring me. So, even if I want to play with somebody, I cannot play. Unless you assure me of a wildcard for such events,” added Bopanna. Paes is currently ranked 55 in doubles.

    Bopanna and Paes have a 2-2 win-loss record in Davis Cup while the former and Mayneni have a 2-1 score out of the three times they have teamed up in doubles for India. Next week Bopanna would be off to Toronto for the ITF masters before landing in Rio five days prior to the tennis event. He has been training under his coach Scott David and says the federation should send a coach and physio at Rio.

    “I will have five days to train at Rio. I am still hoping that the federation sends a coach and physio for me. I have been training with my personal coach Scott David and he will be with me in Toronto, not in Rio,” he said.

    source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> Express Sports> Tennis / by Nitin Sharma, Chandigarh / July 12th, 2016

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    The long-pending demand for a sports hostel in Madikeri turned a reality on Saturday. MLA Appachu Ranjan dedicated the facility, at the district stadium complex, to the young sporting talent in the district.

    Addressing the gathering, Ranjan a former a minister of Sports and Youth Empowerment said, “The authorities should spot the sporting talent, nurture them and make them battle-ready for big stage competitions.”

    .The MLA called upon the budding sportspersons to make use of the facilities and carve a niche for themselves at national and international level.

    Ranjan said, there was a demand for sports hostel in Madikeri on the lines of Koodige and Ponnampet, which has been realised now.

    The legislator said that, as a Sports minister he had sanctioned Rs 15 crore towards the development of sporting infrastructure in Kodagu district. An estimated Rs three crore was spent on building a swimming pool and indoor stadium, besides astroturfs were laid at Ponnampet and Somwarpet hockey stadiums.

    Ranjan said, during his stint as sports minister, he made sincere efforts to introduce guidelines for sports awards in order to eliminate lobbying and other wrong means to get awards and ensure the deserving get rewards for their achievements and feats, he said.

    International hockey player Arjun Halappa said “Youth should make the most of sporting infrastructure and opportunities available in the district”.

    P E Kalaiah, one of the members of world cup winning Indian Hockey team, Assistant Director of Department of Sports and Youth Empowerment Jayalakshmi Bai among others were present.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / DHNS – Madikeri, July 10th, 2016

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    Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna apparently can never say no to his wife Supriya Annaiah.

    Supriya’s favourite artist is Beyonce and her concert ‘Formation’ is currently running in London and she could not miss it.

    Surprisingly, Rohan Bopanna is witnessing the concert for the second time and posted a cool picture of him and his wife as well as Beyonce in the middle of her act in another frame.

    Rohan Bopanna wrote: ‘Witnessing Beyoncé in concert second time around … Courtesy the wife’s obsession with her. #Beyonce #FormationWT’

    Beyonce’s Formation world tour has a 2-day schedule in London.

    Bopanna is currently playing at the 2016 Wimbledon in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles categories.

    source: http://www.mid-day.com / mid-day / Home> Sports News> Tennis News / by mid-day offline correspondent / July 04th, 2016

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    KopattyPeakKF05JUL2016

    Hill slopes blanketed with coffee estates, foggy climate, and fairly adamant rains are what Kodava Nadu welcomes you with during the monsoons.

    The Kodagu region’s salubrious weather makes it an ideal getaway for weekend treks, and the Kopatty trail comes highly recommended. One of the lesser known trails of the region, Kopatty takes you through coffee plantations, forest areas, and a massive grassland before taking you to the summit. This entire trek takes about three hours to complete.

    Typically a day trek, it’s best to start your journey towards Kopatty early in the morning, closer to the sunrise, but during the rains it’s quite difficult to see one, so you could start as per your convenience as long as you keep track of time.

    Reaching Kopatty is easy; get to Madikeri a day ahead. From there take a bus to Bhagamandala or to Tala-Cauvery and get off at Charambane village. It takes about an hour to reach the village from Madikeri. Many people make a stop at Tala-Cauvery to see the origins of the Cauvery rive, but at this time you can’t really see much thanks to the rains. Having said that, the thick fog and continuous rains can be an extraordinary experience. From Charambane Village, head towards the Bhagamandala route for another kilometre, and you will reach Kopatty Temple, which is where the trail begins.

    Charambane is nestled between thick forest cover; it’s a small village with light population, and a few shops selling food and beverages for the trekkers. This is also last place where you’ll see any human settlement before you start your trek. Pick up some essentials from the stores here if you’ve missed carrying anything.

    The walk into the forest begins at Kopatty Temple. You can meet the locals, or even guides at the base of the hill who help you into the trail. There are also jeeps available in case you want a ride all the way to the top. But there’s not much fun in that is there?

    The start of the trail is a tarred road, with paddy fields on either side. The muddy path for jeeps begin soon after, as do the coffee plantations. The road is fairly flat for a few kilometres till you reach a small stream, the first one on the trail. After that the steep climb through the forest begins. It will lead you to a ‘Y’ junction; take the left from there as the trail narrows down, and you’ll find two abandoned houses. Take a right from the houses, and you will be inside the forest. Hereon, the trails gets very little natural light, thanks to the canopied trees, and you need to focus on where you’re going. Also be aware of bugs and leeches. Hold branches to move ahead, but don’t lean against the trees because they’re usually crawling with large ants.

    KopattyPeak02KF05JUL2016

    After a while you will spot the second stream on the trail; it’s a small one, and you can rest here for a while before moving forward. You can even drink this water.

    As you move forward, you will leave the forest area and be in the middle of a beautiful meadow. On your right will be the dense forest area, and on your left will be the beautiful valleys of the region. And if you look ahead, you can see the Kopatty peak in front of you. The path from here is literally like walking on a carpet. It should take you about 10 minutes to reach the peak, which is said to be at a height of 4,500 feet above sea level. From here you get a magnificent view of the Western Ghats as well.

    The descent will have you walk towards Kallugundi across the Kopatty ridge and you will head towards the valley on the left. It will lead you back to the forest from where the climb down is steep, with lots of slippery paths, and dried leaves.

    GETTING THERE

    Kopatty Village is around 296 kilometres from Bangalore. It can be reached by either bus or a private transport. There are buses from Bangalore to Madikeri too.

    source: http://www.bangaloremirror.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Columns> Others / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / by Kumaran P / July 05th, 2016

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    JoshnaKF05jul2016

    New Delhi :

    Top squash player Joshna Chinappa on Friday rose to a career high 10th position in the latest PSA world rankings, becoming the second Indian to break the top-10 barrier after longtime India teammate Dipika Pallikal.

    Chinappa, who has been in fine form in the last six months, moved a place to be 10th in the standings. Pallikal, who broke the top-10 barrier in December 2012, is ranked 19th in the latest rankings.

    Chinappa had reached her biggest ever final at the HKFC International in Hong Kong in May.

    She is now getting ready to defend her title in the National Championship, to be held in Mumbai from July 12.

    Pallikal, who was 18th last month, dropped a place in the rankings. She was a quarterfinalist at the HKFC International.

    The only other Indian in the top 20, Saurav Ghosal, remained on 17. Ghosal had been off action for a while nursing an ankle injury and is due to return to active squash at the Nationals in Mumbai.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Sports News / July 04th, 2016

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    Joshna Chinappa is now the second Indian squash player after Dipika Pallikal to enter the top-10 ranking. Dipika is currently ranked 19th.

    Joshna Chinappa entered final at the HKFC International in Hong Kong in May. /  @ AFP

    Joshna Chinappa entered final at the HKFC International in Hong Kong in May.
    / @ AFP

    New Delhi:

    Joshna Chinappa, top squash player, on Friday rose to a career high 10th position in the latest PSA world rankings, becoming the second Indian to break the top-10 barrier after Dipika Pallikal.

    Chinappa, who has been in fine form in the last six months, moved a place to be 10th in the standings. Pallikal, who broke the top-10 barrier in December 2012, is ranked 19th in the latest rankings.

    Chinappa had reached her biggest ever final at the HKFC International in Hong Kong in May.

    She is now getting ready to defend her title in the National Championship, to be held in Mumbai from July 12.

    Pallikal, who was 18th last month, dropped a place in the rankings. She was a quarterfinalist at the HKFC International.

    The only other Indian in the top 20, Saurav Ghosal, remained on 17. Ghosal had been off action for a while nursing an ankle injury and is due to return to active squash at the Nationals in Mumbai.

    source: http://www.sports.ndtv.com / NDTV Sports / Home> News / by Press Trust of India / July 01st, 2016

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    Seven underprivileged children will be mentored by former athlete and Arjuna award winner Ashwini Nachappa to help realise their dreams of becoming good sportspersons.

    The initiative, launched by Dabur, received nearly 8,000 entries from all over India. Trials were conducted across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal to identify talented athletes. An independent sports panel then screened potential athletes and shortlisted 350 of them. These candidates then participated in a national camp held in Delhi. A team of experts headed by Ms. Nachappa picked the top seven athletes from the group.

    Besides Sayali Mhaishune, who ran barefoot and won the under 17 district sports office inter-school athletic championships, the other winners are Avnee Rawat, Ujala, Shabnam, Vikas, Mohammed Meraj and Jainabaj.

    ( The writer is an intern with The Hindu )

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Delhi / Girbani Dutta / New Delhi – June 27th, 2016

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    M R Poovamma will spearhead Karnataka’s challenge at the 56th National Inter-State athletics championships in Hyderabad from June 28.

    Other notable names include sprinter H M Jyothi, quartermiler Ashwini Akkunji and high jumper Sahana Kumari.

    Sprinters Ashwin MK (200M, 400M, 4x400M relay), Sanjay V (100M, 200M, 4x100M relay) and Ganesh S (100M, 200M, 4x100M) will compete in three events.

    Squad: Men: Radesh MG (100M, 4x100M relay), Sanjay V (100M, 200M, 4x100M relay), Ganesh S (100M, 200M, 4x100M relay), Aiyappa KM (4x100M relay), Nagarj Kudubhavi (400M, 800M, 4x400M relay), Ashwin M J (200M, 400M, 4x400M relay), Tharun (400M, 4x400M relay), Bharath KA (800M, 4x400M relay), Jagadeesh Chandra (400M hurdles, 4x400M relay), Amaranath MD (110M hurdles, 4x100Mts relay), Nagabhushan CP (400M hurdles), Shamsheer SE (long jump), Karthik (triple jump), Jesse Sandesh (high jump), Sandeep Kumar (high jump), P Balakrishna (pole vault), Alfin (shot put).

    Women: HM Jyothi (100M, 4x100M relay), Reena George (100M, 200M, 4x100M relay), Prajna S Prakash (100M, 4x100M relay), Apsana Begam (4x100M relay), Vijaya Kumari GK (200M, 4x400M relay), MR Poovamma (400M, 4x400M relay), Ashwini Akkunji (400M, 400M hurdles, 4x400M relay), Nithya Shree A (400M, 4x400M relay), Arpitha M (400M hurdles, 4x400M relay), Shruthi KC (800M, 1500M), Thippavva Sannakki (5000M, 10000M), Joyline M Lobo (triple jump), Sahana Kumari (high jump), Khyathi S Vakharia (pole vault), Uma PS (shot put), Shahejahani (javelin), Rashmi K (javelin), Harshitha WR (hammer throw).

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Sports / DHNS / June 16th, 2016

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    Badminton champs Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are excited about making the Olympics cut the second time in a row.

     Badminton champs Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa

    Badminton champs Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa

    Qualifying for the Olympics for your country is a big deal, and doing that twice in a row is on a different level — one that’s been achieved by Hyderabad’s own badminton stars Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. The duo will be representing the country in the women’s doubles category for badminton in Rio in August. The two believe that their past experience at the Olympics-level will help them this time around. Jwala says, “The journey was pretty tough, with not too much of support and you’re mostly on your own with your own belief. And you need to motivate yourself every day. But it’s also been fruitful. I’m very happy that we’ve qualified for the Olympics again. It’s a huge achievement for us.”

    “It’s such a huge stage and it’ll be in a different venue in a different country… but I’m happy that we got the experience of the previous Olympics and this time, we’ll be going into each match with confidence,” adds Ashwini. The two have been training for seven hours daily under Malaysian coach Tan Kim Her. “The training is more organised, so there’s a lot more unity among the players. We’re all helping each other to do better, it’s a good atmosphere to play in right now,” adds Jwala.

    Jwala’s experience on court only helps Ashwini, with the latter saying that her confidence helps her play a calmer game. “She’s very gutsy, brave, bold, confident and very sure of herself. And that comes out on court as well. It’s good to have someone like that to play with, as then you don’t have to worry about your partner because they’re confident enough to play,” says Ashwini.

    Jwala adds that bonding with Ashwini while travelling has helped them understand each other better: “Even if I’m down, she’ll know how to cheer me up and get me back on track and I do the same with her. We need to understand that, because the game goes by so fast and we need to support each other.” The rise in the number of Indians taking to badminton, the two say, has helped the sport become popular in the country. But they also add that India has a long way to go before it’s even close to “sporting countries” like China and Korea. “Indians have been doing well, which motivates the juniors and gives them a lot of confidence to play well and beat the best when they go out for tournaments,” Ashwini says.

    Jwala adds, “Most of our population are from the lower (income) and lower-middle classes. We need to bring in talent from there and the only way we can do that is with the help of the government. We need to have a proper system in place, give them the incentives, make education free… so that even if they’re not able to do too well in sports, the education will allow them to lead a better life.”

    source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Sports> Badminton / Deccan Chronicle, Christopher Isaac / June 21st, 2016

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