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After NGT order, Buxa Tiger Reserve officials ban night stay

Activist Subhas Datta had filed a petition with the green panel, saying that a number of establishments have come up in the area which are illegal
Buxa Tiger Reserve.
Buxa Tiger Reserve.
File photo

Our Correspondent   |   Alipurduar   |   Published 19.02.22, 01:15 AM

Authorities of the Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) — the sole tiger reserve in north Bengal in Jalpaiguri district — have notified that no visitor can spend the night in accommodations located within the reserve area.

The order issued by Buddharaj Sewa, the field director of the BTR says the decision has been taken to ensure low impact of tourism in the forest area which is a wildlife habitat and houses the royal Bengal tiger, the principal predator.

“I have issued the order based on instructions of the National Green Tribunal. Visitors can be in the BTR area for 12 hours, that is, from 6am to 6pm. No one would be allowed to visit the reserve or stay here at night. All our officials and staff posted in BTR have been asked to strictly enforce the order,” the field director said.

Environmental activist Subhas Datta had filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal, saying that a number of establishments have come up in the BTR area which are illegal. Altogether, 69 private accommodations and 20 accommodations are under the management of the Bengal government in the BTR, Datta had said.

This made the NGT issue an order, saying all steps should be taken to prevent construction of such establishments to maintain the sanctity of the forest area.

“Based on the order, the authorities have issued the curb so that the flow of tourists can be regulated through the entry gate at Rajabhatkhawa. Also, the tiger conservation plan approved for the reserve has been taken into account,” said a source.

Recently, the department demolished three illegal constructions of private accommodations within the BTR.

Around 300 tourists visit the BTR every day.

The decision has left the stakeholders of the tourism industry worried.

Partha Sarathi Roy, the president of the Dooars Tourism Development Forum, said along with the resorts, a number of homestays have mushroomed in the BTR and local residents have found a new source of livelihood.

“We are thinking of filing a petition with the NGT and would also approach the state forest department. We might even meet the chief minister, seeking her intervention as the curb on the stay of visitors has put the livelihoods of hundreds of people at stake,” said Roy.

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