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August 25, 2014

West Bengal Govt to set up Eco-Tourism Board

West Bengal Govt to set up Eco-Tourism Board

The West Bengal government has decided toset up an Eco-Tourism Board to project the state as a major touristdestination.

State Tourism Minister Bratya Basu saidthat Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee had directed the Tourism Department togo ahead with the setting up the board.

Accordingly, a task force composed of ahost of professional consultants and senior officials has been set up toimplement the decision.

“A comprehensive decision will be announcedafter the task force submits its recommendation to the government,” Mr Basusaid.

The minister said that the state governmenthad taken up developing a major tourist hub in the Dooars forest in NorthBengal.

“The work for mega tourism projects at Gazaldobain Jalpaiguri district, the gateway to the Dooars, has already started over 200acres of land identified by the state government to build a mega-tourismproject,” Mr Basu said.

“Over Rs 100 crore is lined up forinvestment in phases out of the state plan fund for infrastructure developmenton roads, power, drainage and water supply,” he said, adding it would takeabout two years to complete.

The Tourism Department is also working ondeveloping two new eco-tourism hubs at Sylee, adjacent to Malbazar, andKunjanagar near Falakata in the Dooars over an area of 90 acres.

Sylee, situated around 62 km from Siliguri,is adjacent to Sylee tea garden and surrounded by hills, a river and greenery,making it an excellent tourist spot.

Activities like trekking, bird watching andjungle safari can be an added attraction for the tourists.

At Kunjanagar, around 105 km from Siliguriand close to the Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary, visitors can get a panoramicview of the area's natural beauty.

Meanwhile, tourist resorts have come up atMurthi in the Dooars and the Tourism Department is planning to develop NatureInterpretation Centre at Tilabari and Batabari in the area.

The minister said that the department wasplanning to utilise natural resources of these areas to set up the new hubscomprising resorts, food courts, cultural centres, health centres, spa and artand craft centres.

“These will come up on aprivate-public-partnership model costing around Rs 1,000 crore,” he said.

Apart from this, eco-tourism projects willalso come up at Jharkhali in the Sundarbans and Sabujdweep (an island on theGanga) and at Jharkhand in West Midnapore district, the minister said.

The department is also going to focus ondeveloping home stays in the region to attract tourists, boost overall economyof the area and generate employment in the locality.

“We are also going to start home stays byinvolving residents of the fringe areas of different forests and other touristspots. A number of private tour operators have already introduced the conceptin the region, which we are now trying to explore by involving localresidents,” the department officials said.