Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gir National Park Sasan Forest Jungle Asiatic Lions Junagadh Gujarat India

IBM to help create 'Little Africa' in Gujarat.

In a bid to provide employment to youth of the African-origin Sidi community settled in Saurashtra, Gujarat government has planned to create a ‘Little Africa’ on the fringes of Gir forest by developing a theme-based resort.

The resort to be developed on 25 acres of land would be promoted by global giant IBM. The tribal development department of the state government has entered into a tie-up with IBM India for the project.

“The Rs 10-crore project, excluding the cost of land, would be fully funded by the Gujarat government. IBM will provide expertise to select a private partner to run the resort. It will also provide consultancy to market this ‘Little Africa’ across the world to lure maximum tourists,” said Per Yorgansen, project manager, IBM Denmark, who is in Ahmedabad for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program.

Pallavi Shukla, senior consultant to the state government for the project, said that development work would start by March 2010 and the resort would be functional in three years.

“Around 200 Sidi youth will get direct employment. Besides, there would be plenty of indirect employment opportunities as a ‘gram haat’ to display Sidi handicraft will be set up. Every evening there would be cultural events featuring Sidi ‘Dhamal’ dance troupe, which is very popular,” said Shukla.

The resort would be a replica of a typical Sidi village. Even interiors of all the 30 rooms would have an African touch. A museum would display various facets of Sidi life in and around Gir Jungle Forest, especially their interface with the Asiatic Lions.

The Sidi community came to India from East Africa as slaves around 500 years ago. Their population is currently 10,000 in Gujarat, concentrated mainly on the periphery of the Gir forest in Junagadh district

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