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Govt plans to showcase tribal culture to boost tourism in Hills

Kolkata: The state government has chalked out a unique plan of developing cultural tourism in the Hills by showcasing the customs, food habits and rituals of different tribal groups.
West Bengal Khadi and Village Industries Board (WBKVIB), that comes under the aegis of the state Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) department, has been entrusted with the responsibility to execute the project.
"We have signed an MoU with 15 culture development boards in the Hills. We will set up Folk Art Centres for each of these development boards, where the tribals will be able to showcase their traditional dress, weapons, musical instruments and other specialties. We are optimistic that this will be an added tourist attraction in the Hills," said Mrityunjoy Bandopadhyay, CEO of WBKVIB.
Top officials of the Khadi Board who visited the Hills during the business summit in March, held talks with representatives of the development boards and instructed them to search for land where the government will be able to set up the Folk Art Centres.
It has been learnt that more than eight development boards have already earmarked land for the Folk Art Centres. These will be projected as tourist destinations by the state Tourism department.
The handicrafts of the tribals will also be available for display and sale at these Centres. Each of the Boards will be allocated a sum of Rs 2 to 3 lakh.
People have a notion that Gorkha and Nepalis are the tribals in Darjeeling. However, there are many tribals in the Hills, which include Lepcha, Mayel, Tamang, Sherpa, Bhutia, Khamburai, Mangar, Limbu, Newar, Khas, Kami, Dhimal and Bhujel to name a few.
Each of these tribal groups has different ways of dressing. The weapons they use are unique as well. They have their own way of celebrating their festivals through their traditional songs and dances.
"All this has a tremendous potential to emerge as a major tourist attraction, if showcased properly. The state Finance department has allocated a budget of Rs 15 crore already for the project," a senior official of WBKVIB said.
The state Tourism department, under the instruction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has special plans to promote the Hills among domestic and international tourists, particularly after the shutdown by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which had spanned a period of more than 100 days.
"The idea of developing cultural tourism with the tribals is a part of the plan," a senior official of the state Tourism department said.

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