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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

16 women to be birders’ guides at mega tourism hub

'Bhorer Alo', some 25km from Siliguri, but in Jalpaiguri district, has the bird sanctuary Pakhi Bitan

Our Correspondent Jalpaiguri Published 18.12.21, 12:38 AM
DM Moumita Godara Basu interacts with the guides at Gajoldoba.

DM Moumita Godara Basu interacts with the guides at Gajoldoba. Biplab Basak

Sixteen women from Rajganj block in Jalpaiguri district with college degrees will now work as guides of birdwatchers at “Bhorer Alo,” the mega tourism hub developed by the state government in Gajoldoba near the Teesta barrage.

The hub, some 25km from Siliguri, but in Jalpaiguri district, has the bird sanctuary Pakhi Bitan. Every year thousands of migratory birds visit Teesta barrage and nearby areas.

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“The area is a paradise for birdwatchers and ornithologists. Every day, hundreds of tourists turn up at the tourism hub and many take boat rides to see the birds. So far, there were no guides here who could inform visitors accurate details about the birds. That is why we organised a seven-day training for 21 women from nearby areas, which ended on Thursday. Of them, 16 women were selected as guides,” said Moumita Godara Basu, the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri.

Sources in the administration said the women selected could best identify the birds. They can, if they want, start working immediately as guides.

“We had brought in experts from Bombay Natural History Society to train the participants. After the training, they can identify around 50 bird species. We decided to engage them as guides and will equip them with binoculars and some other items,” said a source in the administration, adding this was a new livelihood option for the women.

Nisha Shaibya, a postgraduate, and Pratima Roy, a graduate, said they did not have many options to earn in their areas. “We are associated with self-help groups engaged in certain activities and from there we make some money. Also, some of us offer tuition in the villages. But this new option of working as a guide is very welcome,” Nisha said.

A senior official of the state forest department said that in north Bengal, there are a number of sites where migratory birds turn up every year, such as the Kulik Bird Sanctuary in North Dinajpur and Rashik Beel in Cooch Behar.

“But what the region lacks is proper guides who can give correct information about the species. What Jalpaiguri district administration has done deserves appreciation. We hope that in due course, women of other such birdwatching sites get similar training and scope,” he said.

The forester pointed out that while on one hand, the presence of expert guides can increase the flow of tourists, especially birdwatchers, to the region, it would also financially empower women in tourist spots.

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