At last the Sunderbans Development Council (SDC) is waking up to protect its turf. The council, working against heavy odds like paucity of funds and inaccessibility of the unique mangrove forests famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, has nevertheless made the place what it is today. Tourists can visit the fringes of the dense forests, venturing deep inside if conditions suit and permissions are given.
But all that involving the tourists have so far mainly been private initiatives, and many tour operators have milked good amount of money despite the obvious trouble going there.
The SDC proposes to cut short the journey time from Kolkata, at the same time making the visit memorable. 30 km from the city has come up an attractive eco-tourism park at Kulti-Ghusighata beside the Bidyadhari canal. From a jetty there, SDC will run fast-moving launch service to various far-flung points in Sunderbans via Raimangal and Matla rivers.
Now, most tour operators take visitors by bus to Sonakhali, after which it’s travel on water. Individual goers prefer traveling by train to Canning or by bus via Ghatakpukur to Sonakhali after crossing Matla river. After that it’s crossing another river on way to Gosaba from where Sunderbans starts.
In both cases, the traveling time is not less than 4 hours, and it’s here that SDC’s package scores over the other routes. SDC plans 2d+1n and 3d+2n options to choose from. It’s also trying to rope in the state forest department for arranging accommodation in forest bungalows for spending the nights.
All in all, if SDC’s initiative succeeds, it will herald a new beginning in popularizing Sunderbans as one of the main attractions in South Bengal. [Collated from ABP, March 11]
Mangrove forests in Sunderbans [Picture source]