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Manas back in prestigious World Heritage list

Golden days are back. After 19 years, Manas National Park is declared again as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The decision was taken in the 35th session of the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee meeting held in Paris. With the removal of the danger tag, now Assam has two sites under this category, the other is Kaziranga National Park situated at Upper Assam. It carried out joy and satisfaction to forest department, NGO's and to the local people, whose effort and dedication able to remove the Danger tag off Manas.

Situated on the foothills of the Himalayas and extended part to Bhutan,Manas National Park is one of the most tourist 'after sought ' place in North-East. The park has air, rail and road connectivity. While Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Borjhar in Guwhati is the nearest Airport,Barpeta Road town is the nearest Rail station. It is nearly one and half hour drive from Barpeta Road to the Park. It also provides lodging facilities depending upon the availability. The weather in and around the park is moderate. The minimum temperature is around 17 degree Celsius while maximum is around 38 degree. Heavy rainfall occurs between the month of May to September.

Manas was declared a sanctuary on October 01, 1928 and was designated a World Heritage site in the year 1985.The scenic beauty and presence of varieties of wild-life made the Manas National Park one of the envy-able tourist destination. But things got changed after that. In '80s and '90s Manas witnessed instability and large scale destruction. Poaching of famous Rhinos, destruction of infrastructure became rampant in that period. Keeping in mind all these activities, UNESCO declared Manas as a World Heritage Site in danger in the year 1992,seven years later it got a place in the prestigious list.

But, drastic change occurred after a few years. Local people, NGOs supported by Bodoland Territorial Council and Assam government came forward to save the park. Poachers turned to be the savior of the animals. It helped to prevent poaching of animals and other flora and fauna.

"The role of local people is tremendous", said Mr. Anindya Swargowari, Conservator of forest department. Local people were properly guided in the development of the park. Deputy chief executive member of Bodoland Territorial Council, Kampa Borgoyari also said that without the continued support of the people, the danger tag could not have been removed.

The Assam forest Minister Rockbul Hussain also lauded the efforts made by all to restore the glory of Manas. Rhinos have been re-introduced; the numbers of elephants and wild-buffalos have been increased. The presence of little known white-winged ducked and Manipur bush quail has also been proved. When the UNESCO team visited Manas National Park in the first part of this year, they also expressed satisfaction in the overall development of the park.

As now the danger tag removed from the park, it will be much easier for the park authority to achieve smooth and enhance fund flow.

Manas Pratim Sharma, AIR correspondent, Guwahati

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