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ProtestsContinue on sites' adoption

Protests continued on Thursday in Assam against the Centre's "Adopt a Heritage" project under which Kaziranga National Park and a few historical monuments in Upper Assam's Sivasagar district are proposed to be adopted by a private firm.

By OUR BUREAU in Guwahati
  • Published 4.05.18
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A wild buffalo at Kaziranga National Park

Guwahati: Protests continued on Thursday in Assam against the Centre's "Adopt a Heritage" project under which Kaziranga National Park and a few historical monuments in Upper Assam's Sivasagar district are proposed to be adopted by a private firm.

The project plans to entrust heritage sites or monuments and other tourist sites to private/public sector companies and individuals for development of tourist amenities. #In Assam, JTI, a private firm, has applied to adopt the national park spread over Golaghat and Nagaon districts, besides Kareng Ghar, Rangghar and Siva Doul in Sivasagar.

The Jorhat district unit of the All Tai Ahom Students' Union (Atasu) on Thursday organised a three-hour protest in front of the deputy commissioner's office against the project.

"The government says corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds of the private/public sector firms will be used to develop tourist amenities. We want to ask why does the government not give funds to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the state tourism department who are responsible for maintaining and handling these tourist spots.

"If the ASI and the tourism department cannot maintain the state's most important sites, what is the meaning of their existence?" Atasu's Jorhat district unit president Rajib Gogoi said.

It sent a memorandum on Thursday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the deputy commissioner of the district, demanding cancellation of the project.

Atasu's Tinsukia district unit also organised a protest on Thursday. Its president Milan Buragohain said: "We oppose the project and will continue to oppose it. People of Assam should also oppose it."

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi criticised the BJP-led government. "The CSR funds should be used for development of the state. The BJP-led state government has funds to celebrate Namami Brahmaputra and Namami Barak festivals, but it has no funds for development of heritage sites!" he said.

Among others, the project has also been opposed by the AGP, a partner of the BJP-led government in the state. In a statement, the AGP said it could not accept a decision which "hurts sentiments of people".

The BJP's Assam unit president Ranjeet Dass said: "The controversy is a result of misunderstanding. Through the scheme only the non-core areas will be developed by these private entities."

The chairman of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd, Jayanta Malla Baruah, had said on Wednesday as of now no monument has been handed over to any firm. He said only one firm from Assam has so far submitted expression of interest to work in Kaziranga National Park and in some historical monuments of Sivasagar.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) - which opposes the project too and demands that the Centre cancel it - said involvement of private firms will adversely affect the tourist spots.