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Assam's bid to save lone rain forest

Last updated: 15 March, 2010
Guwahati, Mar 15, (PTI): 21:26 IST

In a bid to preserve Assam's lone rain forest area, the government, in association with environmentalists, NGOs and media, has launched an ambitious plan to make Jeypore reserve forest an eco-tourism hub.

The Jeypore reserve forest and Dilli reserve forest combine to be the only rain forest area in the state spread across the three upper Assam's districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sibsagar comprising a total area of 575 sq km. The forest is listed to be the last lowland forests under the Assam valley wet evergreen forest area in the region.

"As a part of a determined effort to preserve the unique rain forest area, the government has planned to involve the media, environmentalists and the NGOs to hold the rain forest music festival to make the area an eco-tourism hub", Kushal Deka, Jeypore range forest officer, told reporters.

With the rainy season in the offing, Deka says the much awaited festival will be held early next year which will showpiece the cultural heritage of the local people displaying their typical ways of living.

Deka says the proposed rain forest festival would aim at making Jeypore a tourist spot as it has got tremendous potential to attract not only domestic but foreign visitors. "The proposed festival will also help the local people as they can come and sell their home made products as honey, pickles and gifts made of bamboo," he says.

The state's forest minister Rockybul Hussain had recently assured the people about the holding of the festival while inaugurating a renovated forest "heritage bungalow" at Jeypore. Deka says as per the vision drawn up by the forest department, important activities will be identified and also the places where the eco-tourists will go.

The forest officer underlined the need to develop infrastructure like eco-friendly tented cottages, watch towers, river view lodges and tree houses. He pointed out that the area has been so far relatively unknown among tourists who he says have been under the impression that upper Assam's areas were terrorist-prone and unsafe.

"Our department's initiative will be to launch a vigorous publicity drive to ensure safety for tourists and awareness about the available infrastructure", he says.

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