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Some portions of North Bengal forests to remain open in monsoon

Kolkata: Much to the delight of forest lovers, the state Forest department for the first time has decided to keep some selective portions of various forests in North Bengal open for tourists from mid June to mid September. Usually, the entire forest area in North Bengal remains closed for tourists from June 16 to September 15 during the monsoon season.

"A good number of tour operators, resort owners and transport operators had submitted a deputation to me urging the department to keep certain areas in the forest open during the monsoon. Tourists have also urged our forest officials at various national parks expressing their desire to witness the natural beauty of the forest during this season. So we have decided to keep certain areas open this time around," state Forest minister Binay Krishna Barman said.

It may be mentioned that the season from June to September is the mating season for the animals.

"We had to ensure that there is no disturbance to the animals as these months are the mating season. A committee comprising senior forest officials was constituted and after all necessary steps, it gave the green signal for keeping certain areas open ensuring that the animals are not in any sort of discomfort," Barman said.

Sources in the Forest department said Kalipur Jungle Camp, Dhupjhora Eco Tourism camp under Gorumara National Park, Panjora Jungle Camp, Murti Jungle Camp, Hornbill Jungle Camp, Chukchuki watch tower which are also located in close proximity to Gorumara will be kept open including the route in Chapramari forest from the entrance gate to the watch tower.

The Dakshin Khayerbari Tiger Rescue Centre and Mendabari Jungle camp under Jaldapara National Park and areas like Sikiajhora Eco Tourism Centre, the Poro Eco Park, Buxa Fort, Jayanti etc under Buxa Forest will remain open for tourists.

"Forest areas in South Bengal remain open for tourists throughout the year. The minister had given us a proposal to examine whether a portion of the forest in North Bengal can be kept open considering the huge tourist demand. We have ensured that there will be no discomfort to the animals. No jeep safari or elephant safari will be allowed in the forest," said Ravi Kant Sinha, Chief Wildlife Warden of the state.

"The Dooars draws around 10,000 tourists daily but the number falls by 90 percent during the monsoon. If some of the forest areas are kept open, the footfall can go up by 20 to 30 percent between June 16 and September 15," a tour operator said.

A number of species of animals like tigers, rhinoceros and elephants make their habitat in the forests of the Dooars. Other animals include various types of deer, bison, birds and reptiles.

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