Sunday, 17 June 2012

Jurassic Park for sale

AHMEDABAD: Royal families, dinosaurs and desolate islands thrive only in fairytales. But not for Siddhrajsinh Raol whose ancestors once ruled the Bhavnagar region. He is the owner of one of the last privately owned virgin islands - Piram - about 7.2 nautical miles from Ghogha. Strewn with fossils of dinosaur eggs, giraffe and gigantic turtles, Raol has put the island up for sale.

"I have at least 100 offers, but most of them have plans that may destroy the natural history of this place," says Raol, a businessman who company makes greenhouses. "We are targeting high net-worth individuals (HNI), NRIs and celebrities who could develop Piram into a residential township. We plan to source power from non-conventional sources - solar and wind."

The island shares features similar to private islands like the Isla de sa Ferradura in Spain, Temptation Island in Thailand and the Blue Lagoon in Fiji. Besides, HNIs, large corporates have shown interest. Raol, however, is not ready to declare the price tag.

Such is the island's location that history has been washed on its shores over the ages. This includes parts of shipwrecks some which belong to the 14 the century - the ships' crankshafts and other parts still lie strewn on the beach.

Every point on this 90-acre island is riddled with fossils, some dating back 8,000 years. Fossils of two basic species of giraffes - Brahmatherium and Sivatherium - were found from the island in the 1860s. Those of the Hipparion have also been found here.

The lone lighthouse at the edge of the island only adds to its beauty. "Though the island is spread over 186 acres, the Directorate General of Lighthouse and Lightships owns the light house and its surroundings while the rest is mandatory government wasteland. I am the only private owner on the island. We have even offered the government that we could help them develop the wasteland," says Raol.

"A natural history museum, convention centre, clubs of international standard, educational institutes and IT parks can be planned on this island apart from residential areas," he says. 

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