Belpahari (West Midnapore), Jan. 5: Phantom and Diana lived in a tree-house in Africa’s Denkali forest.
The comic-strip fantasy would come real here as the local panchayat has taken up a Rs 52-lakh project to build tree-houses in the forest here to lure tourists.
Forest officials said the tree-houses (“gachh ghar” in Bangla) will be set up to provide tourists visiting the Belpahari and Banspahari forests with a view of elephants from close quarters.
Herds of wild elephants from the Dalma mountains on the Bengal-Jharkhand border have been a centre of attraction for tourists here. And they had mostly left the place longing for a better view of the pachyderms on moonlit nights.
Some private companies have apparently shown interest in setting up cottages atop trees. The administration has chosen four places in the forest where hillocks form part of the background. “We have chosen Thakuran Pahar, Chatan Dungri Pahar, Gadarsila Pahar and Laljal. These parts are frequented by elephants from the Dalma range. We are building at least eight tree-houses to develop the area into a place of tourist attraction,” said Narayan Biswas, the block development officer.
These houses will be made of wood and thatched with light materials like mats made of dry saal leaves or tin.They would have electricity and drinking water supply for six to eight persons.
Sub-divisional engineers at Jhargram, who will carry out the construction work, said the tourists would have to climb up with the help of ladders. The authorities would provide security from wild animals.
The elephant sanctuary proposed to be created here by the forest department will increase the chances of sighting elephants manifold, said forest officials. However, people of the area have been using make-shift tree-houses, which they built to keep a watch on the marauding herds, to host tourists for a fee.