Avik Kumar Chakraborty
Jokai Botanical Garden cum Germplasm Centre from Dibrugarh which has been lying neglected for years has got a new lease of life with a sanctioning of Rs 71.41lakh from North East Council(NEC) fund for its rejuvenation. Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, 12-km away from Dibrugarh is the Jokai Botanical Garden cum Germplasm Centre is situated in Jokai Reserve forest. Nestled among the verdant wildlife, the popular tourist destination has of late lost some of its sheen due to sheer neglect by the forest department.
Dibrugarh district administration on July 27, 2017 held a meeting at Jokai Botanical garden with the locals of the area and discussed their plan to rejuvenate the Botanical garden. Large numbers of villagers participated in the meeting and showed their interest to preserve the Botanical garden.
Earlier, it has been alleged that the local people cut the fencing of the Jokai Botanical garden to stray their animals inside the park for grazing. Meanwhile, the local villagers who have participated in the interaction programme told about their plight during the flood and they have to take the help of the wood to survive. Wildlife biologist Rajib Rudra Tariang also participated in the programme and explain the local villagers about the importance of forest. He said that they should come up and conserve the rich bio-diversity Speaking at the gathering, local MLA Rituparna Baruah said that Jokai Reserve forest is few kms from Dibrugarh and has been lying in a neglected state for many years. He said that Jokai Reserve forest has lots of tourist potential because of its rich diversity. “The main aim of our government is to revive the Botanical garden and generate job opportunities for the local of the area,” he informed.
Dibrugarh Deputy Commissioner Laya Madduri said that they have been thinking for the revival of the Botanical garden which has been laying in a neglected state for many years and for that they have been trying to manage fund for its revival but in the meantime the NEC fund was sanctioned for its beautification. “From this fund will we create boundary walls and try to beautify the Jokai Botanical garden cum Germplasm centre. We are thinking for the involvement of local people which will create new job opportunities for them,” she added.
She further added they are planning for eco-tourism project at Jokai for which community participation is necessary. “We have discussed about the projects and appeal the local to help us because without their help we cannot go forward. If we can preserve the Jokai Botanical garden then it can be a best tourism site,” the DC said. She said that they will organize seminars and workshop and trained the youths of the area and engage them for the preservation of the forest.
“Our main aim is to develop the Jokai Reserve forest as tourism spot because the place have lots of potential. If we can project the potentialities of the reserve forest then it can help people one of the best destination for tourists in Dibrugarh,” Madduri said.
Jokai Botanical Garden cum Germplasm Centre was created in 2001-02 but after that it has been neglected by the former government. The Jokai Reserve forest covers an area of 11,000 square metre is a rich treasure trove of various species of flora and fauna, which include several valuable species, which are nearly extinct now. The reserve forest is also home to various types of butterflies, snakes, birds etc. Moreover, there are around 17 species of reptiles present here. The reserve forest like many other reserve forests, sanctuaries and national parks of the state is very poorly guarded in terms of manpower. There is also a nursery inside the botanical garden with several species of plants but presently it stands in a rundown condition.
Speaking to ‘The Northeast Window’ Nakul Khound, co-ordinator of Irab Kirab, NGO said that the Jokai reserve forest has lots of potentialities but the concerned department has failed to project the potentialities of the forest. “Many foreign tourist come to the reserve forest and compare it with rain forest because of its rich vegetation and tall tress which are similar to rain forest,” Khound added. He added “In order to give the much-needed boost to eco-tourism, a number of projects were undertaken earlier by the departments concerned but now there is no trace of a single one. A orchidrium was set up inside the Botanical garden to give a boost to the researcher scholar and the tourist but now orchidirum is in a bad condition because of lack of maintenance.”
Tourism has lots of potential in Assam as the state is gifted with abundance of natural resources. There are many tourist destinations in the state but respective governments have failed to project the tourist destination. Tourism industry is the most viable industry in the present age which can generate employment opportunities for the coming generations.