Guwahati, Oct. 8: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) does not want to be identified only with protests, slogans and agitation.
The peasants' rights organisation has translated its words into action by setting up an orchid park and biodiversity conservation centre at Durgapur village in Kohora range of Kaziranga National Park. The centre will be inaugurated on October 14.
"We want to prove that the KMSS not only stands for protests and agitation but also action for a good cause. The park will house 500 orchid species found in our Northeast, 200 varieties of paddy, medicinal plants which are fast becoming extinct, various types of local flowers and fruits. We have already provided employment to 60 local villagers and have engaged some English-speaking Assamese youths who will guide and share information about our orchid and rich biodiversity with tourists visiting the park," KMSS adviser and peasants' rights leader Akhil Gogoi today said.
The Kaziranga National Park - a Unesco World Heritage Site - normally remains open for tourists and other visitors from November to March.
The Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park is spread across 16 bigha of land. It also has a photo gallery of 500 orchids, a greenhouse, lakes with boating and angling facilities and small tree-houses, among other attractions. "The basic purpose of opening this park is to conserve the local varieties of orchids, flowers, fruits, fish and our colourful ethnic culture and spread knowledge about them. Those visiting the park will not only be able to see these collections but also taste juices of local fruits, pithas (local cakes) and enjoy Borgeet and Xattriya dance performances as well," another KMSS leader, Kamal Kumar Medhi, said.
Noted litterateur Homen Borgohain will inaugurate the park on October 14. Jadav Payeng, the conservationist who is called the Forest Man of India, actor Adil Hussain, innovator Uddhav Bharali, traditional medicine practitioner Gunaram Khanikor and biodiversity researcher Prabin Kumar Saikia, among others, will attend the function.
The KMSS has been spearheading the peasant agitation since 2005 and demanding land for landless farmers, irrigation facilities and opposing transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The group, however, invited criticism after Pranab Boro, a landless hill dweller, self-immolated here during a KMSS-led protest demanding land for the landless hill dwellers in the city.
"We have involved experts and their experiences to give shape to the park. Khonjit Gogoi, a teacher who has been preserving the orchids for the past 20 years, joined us to prepare the park. We took help from Mahan Bora, a farmer, and his 10-year experience of collecting paddy varieties. Kunti Bora, an expert in medicinal plants, has helped us open a medicinal plants sales counter, Bihu expert Dhaneswar Saikia will present the original Bihu dance forms and music while Xattriya expert Biplob Baruah has joined us for Xattriya dance training. Children and aged people in the nearby villages are already being provided training on folk music and dance free of cost," Medhi said.
The KMSS, however, will charge a nominal fee from tourists and visitors for maintenance of the park and to pay park employees.