After taking bold steps to bring peace back in the area, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee now aims to bring investment for tourism in the Jangalmahal sector.
Jangalmahal sector comprises 58 police stations in three districts – Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore. Highlighting the untapped potential of tourism in vast stretches of forest area in the three south-western districts, Banerjee asked officers to reach investors with her message of shedding the fear of adverse law and order situation in the region and set up tourism infrastructure.
The area was known to be ‘Maoist-infested’ for many years as the erstwhile Left Front government failed to bring peace. The extremists mercilessly killed local political leaders, peacekeeping forces and villagers, and turned the area into a fortress for themselves.
After coming to power in 2011, Banerjee took strong action against the red extremists to reinstate the normalcy in the area and drastically reduced the incidence of Maoist violence. The state government has repeatedly asked the police to take stringent action against any incident of law and order violation – irrespective of political affiliations.
Packaging up the Jangalmahal Circuit, the state government is putting up infrastructure facilities like heritage hotels, cable cars and lodges. Private investments have also been invited to support the mission. The state Tourism department is now preparing a draft plan to be placed before the Chief Minister’s Office for her final recommendation. The project would cost around Rs 65 crore.
“We are going in for destination development and designing one-night and two-day tour packages around Jhargram. In addition, ropeway is another attraction we are considering in Mukutmanipur, Ajodhya Hills and Subarnarekha,” a senior officer said.
Belpahari, Khargra falls, Kakrajhor, Laljal are some places for which the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) has planned package tours. Trekking and other adventure sports will be promoted at Kakrajhor. “People will love to travel places like Rameshwar temple, bank of river Subarnarekha and Tapavan,” a WBTDC officer confidently said.
Tapavan is believed to be the burial place of Rishi Valmiki and WBTDC is working hard to promote the historical relevance of the place. A reputed hotel brand is set to build hotels at Jangalmahal.
It may be recalled that the ‘vision document’, prepared by Trinamool Congress ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections, had promised to promote the state as an “ideal tourist destination” with special emphasis on eco-tourism, culture tourism, pilgrimage tourism, folk tourism, Himalaya tourism, coastal tourism and tea-tourism.
The state Tourism department also began working on a draft tourism plan on adventure tourism, which has been linked with Jangalmahal Circuit, following instructions from the CMO. The proposal has been prepared and senior officials of the department are scrutinising it before sending to the CMO for consideration.
Jangalmahal will have a sizable presence in ‘Experience Bengal’ – Bengal government’s promotional campaign for promoting tourism in the state. It will be rereleased at the upcoming Bengal Global Business Summit – 2017, to be held on January 20 and 21.