Protests affect tourist footfall
The fall in the number of picnickers at Kaziranga National Park and its adjacent picnic spots has affected small traders of the area.
December is generally a peak time for picnickers and local tourists to show up in increasing numbers.
However, in view of the situation prevailing because of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the number of tourists is so small that the lodge owners and other traders are facing serious financial constraints.
Some of the lodges are on the verge of closing down.
Generally, around Christmas, there are as many as 500-600 picnic parties throng at Kaziranga and it is difficult to find a spot.
This time, however, was a different story, with only a few picnic parties showing up at the spots.
It has been a similar view around picnic spots at Kaliabhomora in Sonitpur district and Chikarighat in Golaghat district.
A small trader at Kohora, Narayan Bhattarai, said business had been bad in the past days.
“Though it is the peak time where we earn more than the whole year, this year the anti-CAA protest affected our business badly and we are almost about to shut shop,” Narayan said.
Another businessman, who owns a hotel at Kohora, Rithon Saha, said business was so poor in the past days that they might have to close down.
“Earlier, our hotel was fully booked around this time. However, this time we are facing serious financial hardships in managing the staff and salaries,” Saha said.
Swapan Nath, a resident of Kohora, said due to a falling number of picnickers, the Karbi people living near popular picnic spots like Hatipathar, Tinimukhani and Bagari stone quarry had been badly affected.
“The picnickers from Nagaland, Arunachal and Meghalaya throng Kaziranga in large numbers and the Karbi people sell their vegetables and earn a good amount every season. But this time the anti-CAA protest has ruined their chances,” he said.
Jogeswar Pegu, a post-graduate in Assamese, opened the Chikarighat river camp at a picnic spot by the Brahmaputra in Golaghat district on December 1.
He said business was quite good for the first three days after the opening of the camp but just after the protests began, the number of picnickers at Chikarighat went down.
“Though we are facing serious financial problems, we are expecting a good turnout in the coming days starting from New Year’s day,” Pegu said.