By Pranshi Chaliha
North east India is paradise for tourists. Its scenic attracts people from every corner of the world. Its nature is enhanced by beautiful hills, rivers, waterfalls, innumerable varieties of flora and fauna, countless species of wild animals and plants etc. The history tells us that since the days of Hieu-en-Tsang, the great Chinese traveler came to Assam during the reign of Kumar Bhaskar Burman (594-650 AD) to explore the beauty of Assam. Assam is one of the North Eastern states of India, which lies in the Southern side of the Great Himalayas. Of various tourists spots Assam is famous for the world’s largest river island Majuli, National Parks, one horned rhino, gibbons, river dolphin, wild horses, tea estates, local silk etc.
Eco-tourism is a new concept, developed around the idea of travelling to places of natural beauty, moving around and staying with the places of nature for some days. It has the twin objectives of conserving the environment and improving the welfare of the local people. Countries like Kenya, Costa Rica and South Africa have already successfully promoted eco tourism. Kerala presents a unique story of eco tourism and Assam also has immense scope for eco tourism.
One of the most developing eco tourism spot of Assam is Dibru-Saikhuwa. It is one of the five National Parks of Assam, one of the 14 biosphere reserves in India and one of the 34 hotspots in the World; it is also the only river island National Park of India. Many rare and endangered animals like hoolock gibbon, capped languor, slow Loris, water buffalo, tiger, elephant, river dolphin, apart from a large population of both local and migratory birds and sizeable population of rare feral horses are found in the sanctuary. The park is home to nearly 500 species of birds some are very rare like the black breasted parrot bill, Jerdon’s babbler, swamp prinia etc. Dibru Saikhuwa is also famous for flowers. More than 193 wild orchids are found in it. Another interesting thing about the National Park is that nearly 6000 people of 952 families, inhabitants of three villages namely-Laika pomua, Liaka Pasidia and Laika RIiobi in the core area the park are still living in primitive life style. The facilities like electricity, hospitals, banks, markets, vehicles, roads etc are not there. One has to walk 15km to reach those villages.
A 15-member team of educated but unemployed youths from Natun gaon, the team is headed by Nirantar Gohain has started an eco tourism project at Guijan to attract more tourists to the park. Guijan, around 15km from Tinsukia, is one of the multiple entrances to the park. The team has formed an NGO called Wave Eco-Tourism and they built eco huts on Dibru riverside. They have built 4 eco huts, each meant for two. Another eco camp is also there which is built by Juinadul Ahmed (Benu). He is very famous as a guild, he knows the birds well. Both the camps have planned a day long itinerary for the tourists begins at around 8am by sightseeing on boats, as most part of the park is covered with Dibru, Dangori, Dhola and the Brahmaputra rivers. In the afternoon, the tourists are brought back to the camp for lunch and after lunch the tourists are taken towards river unction to show the rare and endangered Gigantic river dolphin and after that to show the beautiful sun set. Banashree camp also offers trekking. Kohuwa is another camp is situated in Maguri- Motapung Beel, it is ran by Rishikesh, Jibon and Palash. Maguri beel is famous for migratory birds like Baer’s Pochard, White-winged Wood Duck, Bengal Florican, Pale-capped Pigeon, Rufuos-rumped Grassbird.
According to Nirantar Gohain, “we are happy that we take at least some initiatives to show the beautiful national park to tourists but government is lacking behind to protect the infrastructure so that the tourists come here and government should take initiatives also to protect the villagers who riside inside the National Park which can also be an attractive place for the tourists.”
Currently, Assam ranks much lower in domestic tourist arrival list of India holding 21st position and foreign tourist arrival rate is even lower in the state. Some of the local people started to open eco tourist camp in Dibru-Saikhuwa but government should start to conserve the nature, infrastructure of it. Every year the national park has to face the problem of flood, hundreds of animals, birds die because of it. When there are scopes for the improvement and protection of the nature the government should give eye on the conservation of National Parks of Assam.