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Plans afoot to start river safaris in Kaziranga

By Rituraj Borthakur

GUWAHATI, April 22 - After jeep and elephant safaris, tourists will soon have another option in Kaziranga National Park to get an entirely different experience of the enchanting habitat where plans are afoot to launch river safaris.

Inland water transport director BB Dev Choudhury has written to the transport department to conduct a joint survey with the forest department on the Brahmaputra river to identify spots for berthing of cruise vessels.

The move comes after the Inland Waterways Authority of India had asked the Assam government to take up the mater on priority.

�During a recent roadshow in Guwahati, some cruise operators flagged the issue of lack of berthing jetties for cruise vessels near Kaziranga. The IWAI chairperson has asked the Assam government to take up the matter on priority and get the necessary approval from the forest and tourism departments,� IWAI sources said, quoting the minutes of the recent meeting held in Delhi.

Dev Choudhury said the government has received proposals from various cruise operators who are willing to launch their services at Kaziranga. The IWT is also developing two cruise vessels which it will operate.

�First, we need to identify the berthing facilities on the (Brahmaputra) river at Kaziranga. Approvals will also be required from the forest department,� Dev Choudhury said.

The IWT is also looking at the possibility of mooring a cruise vessel in the middle of the river and use small boats to take the tourists along the banks so that they can enjoy the lush green forests and chance upon wildlife.

�If we can make this happen, it will give a big boost to the tourism sector. At the same time, it will also open up opportunities for the youth,� the IWT director said.

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