TEZPUR, Dec 17 - The Assam government�s tall claims about promoting tourism by way of launching a host of initiatives fail to present the real picture as domestic and foreign tourists have not even heard the names of some spots in the State having enormous tourism potential. The magnificent Bhalukpong-Tippi area, stretching up to the Seizusa belt via the Nameri National Park on the bank of the Jiabharali river along the Assam-Arunachal border in the Sootea LAC of Sonitpur district, bears testimony to this contradiction. The area is yet to be valued as a tourist spot despite its picturesque beauty surrounded by majestic forested hills.
Nameri, the third national park about 40 km away from Tezpur, falling under the Sonitpur west division of the forest department, adjoins the Pakhui (Pakke) Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh on its northeastern point. Together, they constitute an area of over 1,000 km of deciduous forests with narrow strips of grassland. While talking to this correspondent, DFO of the Sonitpur west division of the forest department Ranjit Kwonar stated that Nameri is a birds� paradise with over 300 species of birds, crisscrossed by the Jiabharali and her tributaries Diji, Dinai, Doigurung, Nameri, Dikorai, Khari, etc. The inaccessibility and continuity with the neighbouring forest areas have helped the wildlife of Nameri to thrive, he said.
The various species of birds include the white-winged wood duck, the great pied hornbill, the wreathed hornbill, the rufous-necked hornbill, black stork, ibis bill, the large whistling teal, the common merganser, the king vulture, the long-billed ring plover, the khaleej pheasant, the hill myna, the pin-tailed green pigeon, the Himalayan pied kingfisher, the three-toed kingfisher, the fairy bluebird, etc.
The reptiles found in the forested area include the king cobra, cobra, pit viper, Russell�s viper, banded krait, python, rat snake, Assam roof turtle, Malayan box turtle, keeled box turtle, Asian leaf turtle, narrow headed soft-shelled turtle, Indian soft-shelled turtle, etc, while the prominent fish varieties include golden mahseer, short finned mahseer and silghoria.
The forest is also home to mammals like tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, elephant, Indian bison, dhole, sambar, barking deer, dog deer, hispid hare, Indian hare, capped langur, slow loris, Assamese macaque, rhesus macaque, Himalayan yellow throated martin, Malayan giant squirrel, flying squirrel, etc, Kwonar said.
The national park and its periphery are thriving with various species of trees that are not abundantly available in other reserved forests of Assam. If the tourism department takes proper initiative, then these rare trees can be protected from timber smugglers and it would help in conservation of wildlife in the national park, he observed.
The people residing in the fringe areas of the forest also lamented that the government, ironically, seems reluctant to develop this majestic place as a tourism hotspot.
The waters of river Jiabharali, which enhances the beauty of the spot, are crystal clear, flowing from the north to the west over the grey sand dotted with fine stone boulders. This can provide an enchanting experience to those who visit the spot through the dense green forest amidst the deep silence of Nature.
During the picnic season, people from different parts of the State throng this area to enjoy the untouched beauty and hill view of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. However, the natural abundance apart, the tourism department can do much more to attract foreign and domestic tourists.
Godadhar Mili, who has been working in the field of tourism with homestay facility in every house of Dharikati village near Nameri along the Jiabharali river, said the government has failed to tap the vast tourism potential of the areas adjacent to the national park.
The Central government-funded orchid garden in Tippi area is also in a dilapidated condition due to alleged misappropriation funds allotted for its maintenance. The options for accommodation are also limited, especially for foreign tourists. The tribal people living near the area rued that though they can also be a part in this venture, the government has not made any visible effort to uplift the downtrodden populace.