|Tourists on elephant safari in Kaziranga. File picture
Jorhat, July 31: Oil India Limited and Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd are planning to set up an eco-tourism project near Kaziranga to give a boost to the tourism industry at the national park. .
OIL, the second largest oil and gas company in the country, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ATDC to prepare a detailed report of the project.
Through this project, OIL aims to create awareness about wildlife preservation, eco-friendly tourist infrastructure and employment opportunities for local youths, to promote art and culture and to increase tourist footfall, a senior OIL official told The Telegraph today.
“Apart from lodging facilities, the project will include a museum, entertainment facilities for tourists, display of art and culture of Assam and interactive sessions with experts. It would be a total entertainment package for tourists,” an ATDC official said.
Tourist flow to Kaziranga, the abode of one-horned rhinos and a World Heritage site, has been increasing every year despite rampant killing of rhinos. The park received 101,165 tourists in 2012-13 and 128,435 in 2013-14.
“The flow of tourists, domestic or foreign, to the national park has been increasing every year. Although there are many private and government facilities near the park, we still think there is a need to develop the area more. So we have joined hands with OIL to undertake such an initiative,” the ATDC official said.
The MoU was signed at the ATDC office in Guwahati on July 24 by N.R. Deka, general manager (administration & PR), OIL, and Anurag Singh, managing director, ATDC. Also present were ATDC chairperson Hemo Prova Saikia and deputy secretary, department of tourism, Assam, Paul Baruah, and other senior OIL and ATDC officials. Under the MoU, OIL will formulate a detailed project report on the basis of a feasibility study.
The ATDC will arrange land for the project and ensure that while preparing the DPR OIL takes into account all regulations under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 or any other act(s) applicable to Kaziranga, including various notifications issued by the Union ministry of environment and forests.
ATDC managing director Anurag Singh told this correspondent that a plot of land had been identified at Kohora for the project. “The bidding process will start as soon as the detailed project report is completed,” he said.
The OIL official said the project would be set up at a cost of Rs 5 crore as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility scheme.
He said tourists have hardly anything to do at Kaziranga in the evenings after visiting the park and the project, when complete, would ensure that they have much more than wildlife at Kaziranga. “If anyone wants to know about Kaziranga and Assam in detail, they can visit this centre.”
Both the officials said the project would give a boost to the tourism industry near Kaziranga.