Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tourism potential of Udalguri yet to be tapped
UDALGURI, Dec 28 – The picturesque Indo-Bhutan border in Udalguri district criss-crossed by meandering watercourses amid lush green forests offers immense potential for eco-tourism promotion. Unfortunately, years of neglect to the backward district prevented this prospect from taking a practical shape.But things could be gradually changing for the better with the district administration, the forest authorities and voluntary organizations joining hands to make a beginning.
“Udalguri is indeed replete with possibilities for a sustained growth of eco-tourism, which can also be a tool for expediting the development process. We are ready to provide the necessary assistance to harness its tourism potential,” Udalguri Deputy Commissioner Thaneswar Malakar said.Acknowledging that infrastructure constraints stood to hinder tourism development in the border areas, Malakar said that he had formed a committee to look into the different issued involved – including conservation problems, mitigation of the man-elephant conflict, development of the border areas, etc.
“We want to adopt a multi-dimensional approach, as conservation of the flora and fauna and involvement of the local communities will be critical to the long-term success of eco-tourism. Development of the forested areas along the border will be a priority, and we have instructed all the line departments to assist the Forest Department. If necessary, border development funds will also be used for the purpose,” Malakar said.
Bankim Sarma, DFO, Dhansiri Division, while stressing the need for a cautious and well-planned approach, said that adequate training to NGOs and local stakeholders should be integral to any strategy to tap the district’s eco-tourism potential offered by the scenic border areas.
“It needs to be ensured that tourism promotion does not end up damaging the fragile ecology of the area. Tourism promoters will have to have the necessary training and expertise,” Sarma said.
A meeting was held in DC's Conference Hall.Udalguri on December 28 at 11 AM to discuss problems of Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary. Declared a Reserve Forest in 1942 it elevated to a wildlife Sanctuary in 1980. Famous for Pigmy Hog and Hispid Hare besides other animal and birds, Bornadi WLS with an area of just 26.21 sq KM has been a part of Manas Tiger Reserve. But wildlife loving people of the district have different story to tell. According to them it was elevated to a WLS without considering development of its infrastructures like approach road, communication,forest staff,tourist lodge,guide etc. Unabated destruction of forests and large scale encroachment have been adding more trouble to the WLS and its habitats. With no attached buffer zone the animals of the sanctuary are in big risk of lives. Any wild animals coming out of the WLS instantly get killed by locals. Neither Assam nor BTAD authority had ever paid slightest attention for its development. Nature loving people of the district including members of two NGO s working at Bornadi WLS and Khalingduar RF express serious concern saying that if no steps were taken it would die a premature death. Fortunately educated young boys and girls of the locality have come out for the restoration its lost glory.
The meeting was attended by DC,SP, DFO of Udalguri representatives of WWF, ABITA, Media,DVO, District Agriculture Officer and members of two NGOs namely – Pigmy Hog Eco-tourism Society and Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society. Speaking on the occasion, Thaneswar Malakar,DC,Udalguri thanked The Assam Tribune group for giving excellent coverage of the three Reserve Forests of the district namely -Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary,Khalingduar Reserve Forest,Bhairabkunda JFMC Forest and Neewly,another PRF which has been totally encroached. At the same time he the members of the two NGO namely -Pigmy Hog Eco-tourism Society of Bornadi WLS and Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society to work with dedication leaving aside personal interest and profit. Conservation activists Debanga Mahaliya spoke on poor grassland management in Bornadi WLS saying that invasive species of creepers and shrubs could very much destroy the WLS. Bankim Sarma,DFO,Dhansiri Division explained departmental procedures and requested members of the conservation groups to inherit expertize and skill before venturing into forests. According to him new management plan for Bornadi WLS would soon be prepared. Hiten Baishya of WWF North Bank Landscape Programme assured the meeting that they would arrange a training camp at Bornadi in the month of February for the members of the NGOs working in the district so as to engage them in wildlife survey.In this matter he assued that they would also arrange an exposure tour for the trainees in Laokhoa WLS. Bikon Deka, Senior Manager of Bhutiachang TE (one of he most Eco-friendly tea garden in the state)and Chairmen ABITA speaking on the occasion advised young members to stop traditional hunting and killing of wild animals and birds among tea garden tribes.He also declared that ABITA would arrange another nature exposure tour for the nature loving members in Dibru-Saikhoa National Park. A monitoring committee for Bornadi WLS was formed in the meeting as suggested by DC Udalguri with DFO,Dhansiri forest Division as the Chairman,Jayanta Kumar Das as Member Secretary;ADC (Dev) and Additional SP Udalguri; Chairman ABITA ,Mangaldai Circle;Debanga Mahaliya and two representative from two NGO as members.The committee will take necessary steps for the promotion of Eco-tourism and conservation of flora and fauna in Bornadi WLS.