Dhupguri – Jungle safari not started, home-stay owners in ‘crisis’
Dhupguri – Jungle safari not started, home-stay owners in ‘crisis’: Jungle safari operations have yet to commence, leading to a crisis for homestay owners in the region. Adding to the complexity, in December 2007, the Gonsaihat Eco-Park was established in the Moraghat forest area under the Left Front government.
While State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made efforts to boost tourism in North Bengal, emphasizing the promotion of homestays in tea plantation areas, allegations arose regarding administrative negligence impacting tourism potential in the Gonsaihat Eco-Park and the surrounding forest regions.
Locals claim that members of the Rava community invested in building homestays in Mogalkata, Mela Banbasti, near the Moraghat forest area, with the expectation of commencing jungle safaris. Unfortunately, it is alleged that these plans were not realized, resulting in a lack of tourists and subsequent hardship for the homestay owners in the area.
In December 2007, the Gonsaihat Eco-park was established in the Moraghat forest area under the administration of the Left Front government. The huge lake adjacent to the park, which was once teeming with migratory birds during the winter season, has reportedly been a victim of neglect over the years. Despite being a popular destination for tourists keen on bird watching, the current condition of the lake is deteriorating, resulting in a decline in the number of birds visiting.
Reportedly, the conditions inside the eco-park are equally deplorable. A dedicated ‘watch tower’ built for bird watching has fallen into disrepair due to lack of maintenance, symbolizing the wider problems facing the park.
Ravi Rava, secretary of the Rava Development Board, expressed concern, saying, “Gonsaihat Eco-park has been in a dilapidated condition for a long time. However, reports are suggesting imminent renovation for the park.”
Local homestay owners expressed their plight, revealing that they had invested in homestays with government support and loans, in the hope of starting jungle safaris in the Moraghat forest area. When this plan does not succeed, they find themselves in trouble. It is hoped that the government will take positive steps to deal with these challenges.
Divisional Forest Officer, Jalpaiguri Vikas V confirmed, “Proposals for renovation of Gonsaihat Eco-park and introduction of jungle safari have already been submitted. It is expected that prompt action will be taken in this regard.