PATACHARKUCHI, March 7 - Governor PB Acharya today visited �Kalibari than� of Jalikhata and lit the �akshay banti� on the occasion of the �Siva Chaturdashi� celebration. He also assured that he will take all necessary steps from his end to protect the great banyan tree in Jalikata area.
He took part in the inaugural meeting of the celebrations along with his wife and in his short speech, he urged the people to work together utilizing the knowledge obtained from education, for the nation. He said that India is one of the greatest nations of the world and we are proud to Indians. India is rich but Indians are poor and so to uplift the poorer sections of the society, we should work with dedication and positive mind and spirit.
The Governor�s wife, Kabita Acharya read out a �Parvati stotra�on the occasion. Earlier, the Governor was welcomed by the devotees to the Kalibari than, where amidst the presence of devotees, the seven-day long �Siva Chaturdashi� celebration was formally declared open by Dr Bhupesh Sarma, Principal, NH College.
The celebration committee also submitted a memorandum to the Governor to take steps for the conservation of the great banyan tree in the area, which covers about four bighas of land and upgrade the area to a tourist spot. The Governor assured to do the needful from his end.
It may be mentioned here that a more than 200-year-old huge banyan tree, spread over four bighas of land, which is believed to be one of the largest in the Asian subcontinent on the bank of Kaldia river at Jalikhata of Barpeta district, nearly three km from here, has turned into a spot of attraction for nature lovers, students and religious-minded people, who throng the area throughout the year. The local people have however demanded that the authorities take proper steps to develop the place so that more people can visit the area.
At a press conference held here recently, the Siva Chturdashi Celebration Committee said that though the local people are pitching in with whatever they could for the area�s development, it is not enough and the local authorities should be more proactive over the matter. The press meet was attended by Suresh Pathak, president, Ganga Kalita, member, Ananta Mohan Sarma , advisor and HoD, Botany Department, Bajali College etc.
At present, the tree is under a serious threat of erosion from the Kaldia river. The voices raised by the local nature loving people has found no positive response, they said, even though the tree is vitally important from an environmental point of view. The people have not yet given up hope to develop the place with all necessary facilities for students and the common people from all walks of life. It may be mentioned that the site is also very popular with students from various educational institutions and the common people, who come here for picnics.
A few years back, nature lovers of Jalikhata had celebrated the 200th birthday of the huge tree with various programmes to mark the World Environment Day, as well as to raise the demand to preserve the tree in a scientific manner and save it from erosion of the Kaldia river. People from various parts of the State and even from outside have been visiting the place every year especially in the winter season. Hence, there is ample scope to develop it as a tourist place, by providing various facility from the Department of Tourism, the local people feel. They feel that the tree is the nation�s property and that it should be saved at any cost. The people of the locality are already running a �Sivathan� in the name of �Sivathan Santi Niketan Janaseva Ashram� and every year Siva Chaturdashi, is celebrated there with various programmes.