Siliguri, Aug. 21: Residents of Siliguri and the nearby areas can enjoy wildlife by taking a just 30-minute ride to Shorea where a safari park is set to come up by December next year.
“We will build a Safari Park at Shorea over 600 acres. The first phase of the project, which we intend to finish by December next year, has started. The state forest department and north Bengal development department are jointly developing the project and we hope it will emerge as one of the key destinations for local people and tourists in north Bengal,” minister Gautam Deb said here today.
The proposed park’s site, on the fringes of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, is around 12km from Siliguri town.
“It can be an ideal day-out destination for families, students and others from Siliguri and other parts of north Bengal. For tourists visiting the hills or the Dooars, the park can be a stopover. We have got permission from the Central Zoo Authority and we will spend Rs 255 crore on the whole project. In the first phase, Rs 78 crore would be spent,” Deb said.
On July 17, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while attending a government programme in Darjeeling, had laid the foundation stone of the park.
“Tourists often complain that there is no place in and around Siliguri where they can spend few hours or may be half-a-day. Those going to the hills or the forests need to stay in Siliguri and we cannot offer them any option in Siliguri. The park would be a site to promote,” said Sadhan Roy, general secretary of Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association.
In north Bengal, wild animals can be seen only in the four reserve forests or Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling.
Rajiv Sarkar, a teacher from Siliguri, said: “For us the nearest forest is Mahananda in Sukna. For a day out, we have to travel around 70km to Gorumara. We would just need a few hours to go to the new park and there is no need to book accommodation or take leave.”