Keep Bogamati Safe: An Appeal
Bogamati is a beautiful landscape nestled on the Indo-Bhutan border in Baksa District. It is known for its white sandy river bank of the Barnadi River which flows down from the hills of Bhutan. It is a perfect getaway for nature lovers as well as for picnickers. To add the icing on the cake the area is blessed with a beautiful Buddha Temple and a forest which has a rich variety of flora and fauna and also wild elephants.
Moreover the tourists who visit the place also enjoy trekking, rafting etc. Apart from being a thing of beauty (John Keats’s lines), it was also a bastion of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) who had their base camps in the area and also in its periphery. After years of tussle between the armed forces and the militant organizations the place finally became safe and has turned out to be a picnic hotspot, especially during the winter months.
However, as human beings are best known for the anthropocentric acts that is misusing for one’s own benefit, a similar fate is being faced by Bogamati; the menace of picnicking is very much evident at the place. An untoward incident also occurred when recently a boat which was carrying about 50 passengers and which was overloaded had also capsized and as per sources around 1 lakh people had assembled that day at the spot.
Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out and mandatory corona test is what inter-state travelling requires, the quintessential Meghalaya tourists must have turned their gears towards this paradise. Hence, this is where the problem or menace started although tourists visiting the place is a positive sign especially for the local people who were hit hard economically due to corona. And the local products, small restaurants have found a new lease of life in this season.
Perhaps, amidst the entire fun and frolic somewhere down the line, the environmental balance of the said area goes for a toss/ or has to undergo degradation. There is an ongoing construction activity which has already created a lot of dust and to make matters worse since the onset of winter people have thronged to the place for picnics leaving their huge litter behind. There is no harm in visiting the place and enjoying its serenity but when that very activity disrupts the ecology of the area then the signs are bad.
The area also is a home to wild elephants who will naturally get irritated with such kind of noise pollution. Cases of man-elephant conflict are prominent there just like in other parts of Assam as the road leading up to Bogamati has electric wires to protect the locals. But such kind of nuisance, especially the loudspeakers, honking of vehicles etc will prove to be a threat to the entire biodiversity of the place. The littering of the area and the river body which ultimately joins the adjoining tributaries and villages is ultimately going to have long term adverse effects.
The entire stretch has seen a lot of development especially with the construction of a bridge over the Suklai River and a lot of credit goes to the present government (NDA-BJP) for that. But now the government along with the local representation such as NGOs, Gaon Burahs etc should chalk out plans to promote sustainable tourism. For example, introduce a pass system on a priority basis to discourage excessive rush, impose fines for pollution of any form, for littering the area and the water body etc.
Moreover, the consciousness should come from within as we have already destroyed a number of serene places all across such as Hatisila, Tegheria etc and also have injured places such as Manas National Park as has been opined by author Kallol Deka. Hence it is high time we realize this. These places are still very much unexplored and have the potential to boost Assam tourism which was injured for years due to problems such as militancy and poor connectivity. The road conditions have improved manifold and now there are places such as Tree House (eco-resort).
Therefore we should try and preserve the beauty of the place by not destroying it through our insensitivity. Just like Kaziranga National Park, this area also has the potential to become the next biggest tourist attraction in Assam. The Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary which was in the news recently over loss of biodiversity also requires immediate attention. There is a chance that if everything goes well, even this part of Assam will reap the benefits of tourism.
(The author is currently practicing as an Advocate in Gauhati High Court. The views expressed in the article are his own.)