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6 Jun 2017

Bengal plans to launch forest stay

A herd of elephants in the core areas of Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar
ANIRBAN CHOUDHURY, TT, Alipurduar, June 5: The state forest department will soon introduce "Banyopran Sathi" (companion of the wildlife) scheme in the reserve forests of Bengal so that nature lovers will get a chance to stay in the core areas of the wild.
Forest minister Binoy Krishna Burman said the facility would be introduced shortly and Rs 15,000 would be charged per person for seven days.
Each participant will be provided with a binocular and a GPS tracker so that their movement can be tracked during the stay, he informed.
"There has been a consistent demand from wildlife enthusiasts for such a facility so that they can stay in the core areas of the forests and enjoy the nature and wildlife closely. All modalities have been worked out and the plan will be finalised soon," Burman said.
A person interested in availing himself of the facility can choose the reserve forest they want to visit and submit an application to the forest department with necessary documents, sources said.
"A high-level committee will scrutinise the application and an interview will be conducted. The committee will also carry out a verification check to learn about the applicant's antecedents," thesource said.
A forest officer said verification check was important as to prevent the entry of anti-social elements or poachers into the core areas of the reserves.
"A week-long training will be provided to those who clear the verification process. They will be informed about the facilities available in the forests and how to tackle an encounter with an animal. They will also be apprised of the duties and responsibilities of the forest staff with whom they will stay. If any visitor violates the guidelines and rules, the department will cancel their visit," the minister said.
The visitors would stay with the forest guards in their tents and would even have to cook food.
"There will not be any luxury facility inside the forests like any hotel or tourist bungalow. There is no electricity there. None of the visitors will be allowed to carry any camera and there will also be a complete ban on use of cellphones," he said.

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