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Bhorer Alo: The newest tourist destination in Bengal

The natural beauty around the Teesta Barrage was enough to catch the fancy of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who, as the leader of the opposition back then, had set her eyes on the spot.

Manas R Bannerjee |

The majestic Mount Kanchanjungha throws a purple shadow on the Teesta river that flows beneath, even as the first rays of the morning sun floods the snow-capped peak in gold. The scenery at dawn at Gazoldoba, around 15 km away from Siliguri town, sure gives nature-lovers and tourists alike the tranquil feel they are always on a lookout for.

The natural beauty around the Teesta Barrage was enough to catch the fancy of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who, as the leader of the opposition back then, had set her eyes on the spot. She conceived the idea of developing the area as a mega tourism hub, and, as the chief minister, her dream has finally come true now.

Welcome to ‘Bhorer Alo,’ a project being implemented under the expert guidance of Tourism Minister Gautam Deb, government officials and a group of entrepreneurs, including stakeholders of the tourism industry.

“Gazoldoba has become more beautiful than before, more so presently, as the autumn sun throws its magical rays throughout the day,” says a tourism expert.

The tourism department showcased the new look of Gazoldoba (that falls in Jalpaiguri district) in the evening on 3 November, as those involved in the project headed there after an ‘Investors’ Meet’ for the development of four more sectors within the mega tourism project.

Bhorer Alo is an eco-friendly project in North Bengal and Sikkim, a region that connects four countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and China.

As the chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), North Bengal Zone, KK Tiwari, spoke in the ‘Investors’ Meet,’ he thanked CM Mamata Banerjee and backed the project as one having immense potential. Founder chairman of the CII, Kamal Mittal, too said the CM’s dream project would surely bring in a new era in the tourism industry in the region.

“I request all of you to invest here for the project, because it is a totally different one. This PPP (Public Private Partnership) project is different from the others announced by state governments in India. Generally, state governments showcase projects with commitments of Aachhe Din Aayenge, but nobody knows if such days will actually come, but this state government here has invested a lot of funds to prepare the infrastructure for investors,” he said.

In response to the state tourism department’s invitation, some investors expressed happiness on the project during interaction and site visit that evening.

As the director of Hotel Summit in Siliguri, Sachin Agarwal, expressed optimism, Norden Lama, who came all the way from Dubai, enquired about several things, including waste management and water-logging.

Administrative officials have claimed that there will be no water-logging even if that area receives 200 mm of rainfall in an hour.

“Bhorer Alo is the dawn of a new era, the dawn of sustainability, the dawn of existence as well as survival,” a prospective investor, Abhaya Bose, said.

She assured the authorities that she being a student of ecology wants to set up a small project there with a “new dimension,” which should be eco-friendly.

Another tour operator, Samrat Sanyal, on behalf of an organisation named Global Connection, expressed interest in the plans if the government implements some ideas, including a central cultural area, elevated dining and live kitchen, children’s corner, yoga and meditation centre and adventure sports.

A top official of the tourism department, Tanmay Chakraborty, described the theme of the project and urged the investors to make every project eco-friendly. “For example, a mechanised boat will never be used there as there is a bird sanctuary there,” he said.

In response to other solvent investors, following presentation of the government’s norms by Chandana Roy Chowdhury, Mr Chakraborty said the government will also rethink about the technical matters “in a practical manner” as some systems have prevented investors from actually investing in the project.

Mr Chakraborty also pointed out to the government’s further plans, including elephant riding (proposal for a Pilkhana) and arrangements from the forest department, entertainment for children, especially as one Vaskar Roy pointed out that children were important family members of tourists.

Minister Deb, meanwhile, said that all the stakeholders need to follow all the rules and regulations so as to keep the ecological balance. “We will not compromise on anything that violates the laws,” he said.

“The government under the leadership of Chief Minister Miss Mamata Banerjee is determined to make it a tourism hub with a difference in the country,” he added.