GUWAHATI, Nov 1 � Tourists at the Kaziranga National Park on its opening day today had an unsavoury taste of mindless official protocols that care little for public convenience. Many tourists including those from abroad were denied a chance to enjoy the traditional elephant safari at its scheduled hour � thanks to the inaugural programme involving Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain at the Bagori range of the Park. Kaziranga officially opens for tourists on November 1.
Elephant safari � the most popular mode of viewing Kaziranga�s wildlife � starts very early in the morning, as the wee hours offer the best scope for sighting of wildlife. The unsavoury developments understandably peeved the tourists who had come from far-off places to have a view of the famed wildlife of Kaziranga, only to be disappointed.
�We, like many others, had taken a lot of pain to visit the Park on the opening day. Everybody knows the importance of completing the safari in the early morning hours. But the Forest Department itself seems ignorant of the basics, as it chose not to allow visitors inside the Park until its inaugural ceremony involving the minister was over,� Paloma Dutta, a tourist from Mumbai, said.
Dutta, who is an editor with Penguin Books, said that official protocols should never have been allowed to cause deprivation to the tourists who incur a lot of hardship and come with huge expectations to a place like Kaziranga.
�Either the inauguration function should start much earlier, say around 5 am, or visitors� schedule should not be interrupted for completing the official formalities which are of little interest to tourists. For many, it is once-in-a-lifetime visit to Kaziranga. Should that be negated for the sake of ritualistic procedures?� she questioned.
Dutta said she brought the matter to the notice of the Forest Minister, but he only made evasive replies.
A Park official said that elephant safaris at the Bagori range started late due to the inaugural function, which frustrated some tourists. �We will try to ensure that safaris start as per schedule in future,� he added.
Our Kohora correspondent adds: Amidst various cultural events , Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain today declared open the Kaziranga National Park for the tourist season 2014- 15 at 8 am at Mihimukh.
Apart from 500 tourists, the local people of Kaziranga also participated in the colourful event. About 12 foreign tourists from countries like USA, UK and Australia took part in the opening ceremony. Local MLA Arun Phukon also attended the opening ceremony.
The Kaziranga Jeep Safari and Development Association ferried about 300 school children from Kaziranga area to the Park free of cost to impart knowledge on wildlife to them. This was followed by a lottery programme, where some visitors from Nagpur were selected for a free jeep ride inside the park area.