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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Hellish road: potholed highway keeps tourists away

Every year in winter, Rashik Beel, the water body at the location on the Bengal-Assam border, sees migrant birds of various species

Our Correspondent Cooch Behar Published 06.12.21, 01:57 AM
The dilapidated state highway connecting Rashik Beel with Kamakhyaguri from Tufanganj in Cooch Behar.

The dilapidated state highway connecting Rashik Beel with Kamakhyaguri from Tufanganj in Cooch Behar. Main Uddin Chisti

A popular destination for birdwatchers in Cooch Behar district hardly sees any footfall owing to its potholed connecting road, a 9km-long stretch of the state highway.

Every year in winter, Rashik Beel, the water body at the location on the Bengal-Assam border, sees migrant birds of various species. Near it is a mini zoo, which houses deer, leopards, snakes, peacocks and wild cats.

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“People from different locations of north Bengal and neighbouring Assam would formerly visit Rashik Beel in large numbers during winter to see migrant birds and the zoo animals. But this year, hardly two or three groups can be seen. People simply avoid the bad highway to come here,” said Bikram Barman, a resident.

Restaurants nearby, which cater to tourists, are feeling the pinch.

“We hardly find any customers even on weekends. The dilapidated road has doomed us. We don’t know how visitors will turn up unless the road is repaired,” said Nitai Roy, who runs an eatery near the site.

According to them, the state highway that connects Rashik Beel with NH31 at Tufanganj of Cooch Behar and heads towards Kamakhyaguri of Alipurduar, has been in a bad state for the past three-four years. Around five years back, the road was last repaired. During the past couple of years, the bitumen layer has peeled off. The entire stretch is dusty and dotted with potholes, they said.

“We have staged roadblocks a number of times, but to no avail. It is tough for everyone to use this road. If one takes out his bicycle or two-wheeler on this road, he returns home with dust all over him. Many, including children and senior citizens, are facing breathing problems owing to the dust,” said Samir Chakraborty, a trader.

Sources in the district administration said the state PWD is supposed to repair the road. “A number of roads in the district, including this stretch, has been identified by the PWD. Extensive repair will be taken up soon,” said an official.

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