Forest conservation project with FDA assistance

Guwahati: A project on forest and biodiversity conservation is on the anvil in Assam with assistance from the French Development Agency at an estimated cost of 60 million Euros.

With Assam being one of the bio-diversity hotspots in the country, a coordinated approach for conserving the biological heritage with involvement of research institutions, academicians and civil society was necessary and the new project will go a long way in fulfilling this aim.

Official sources said that another pilot project for natural resource management and integrated livelihood under World Bank funding, launched in 2007 in two forest divisions to usher in a new era of forest management, has now been expanded to nine forest divisions.

As the state has a huge forest cover, a number of schemes have been taken up for increasing tree coverage and in the current financial year it is targeted to raise 11,592 hectares of plantation and 127 saplings.

On the raging man-animal conflict that has taken a toll on wildlife, the government in an effort to reduce the menace by proposing to erect solar-powered fencing and around the reserve forest areas, the sources said.

To develop the tourism sector, the sources said that a number of steps had been taken to create infrastructure, facilitating growth of income-generating tourism related activities and for marketing and promoting the tourism potential of the state.

One of the plans is to set up a mega wildlife circuit covering national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, reserve forests and bird sanctuaries in the state. Another mega circuit is to cover important tourist spots at Chirang, Barpeta, Nalbari, Guwahati, Morigaon, Nagaon and Sonitpur.

Destination development is proposed to be taken up with the Sasoni Merbeel eco-tourism project in Dibrugarh district and the Deepor beel project in Guwahati.

A number of ghats and jetties at strategic places along the Brahmaputra are sought to be developed and a luxury cruise vessel in joint venture with private entrepreneurs will be started soon. For improving rural tourism, an innovative shceme to provide tourists home-stay facilities in selected rural homes will be taken up, they said.