— 50,000 new jobs to be created
— Tk 1,000 cr revenue to be earned
Mahfuja Mukul: The government has chalked out another mega project in Dinajpur for the development of Ashura Beel as a tourist spot and economic zone with a cost of Tk 1200 crore, to be implemented in next 3 years. After implementation of the project about 50,000 fresh jobs and new business hub will be created to scope for over Tk 1000 crore annual revenue for national exchequer.
Full moon night with light shining. The sound of crickets will come from the nearby Shalban. Thousands of fireflies can be seen lying on the two-story roof of the island-like bungalow flowing in the gentle current all around. Nature lovers lost in the realm of imagination in the deep forest will be awakened by the enchanting call of hundreds of birds.
This is the dream of the local administration around Ashura Beel, a green land of natural beauty located between Birampur and Nawabganj upazilas of Dinajpur, famous for its Amazon in North Bengal. Shibli Sadiq, Member of Parliament for Dinajpur-6 constituency, Executive Officer of two Upazilas (UNO) and concerned officials of the forest department along with local entrepreneurs are nearing completion of the master plan to make this dream a reality.
The local administration claims that if this master plan is implemented, it will be a popular and attractive natural tourism center in Bangladesh. Nature lovers will come here every day from different parts of the country and abroad. About 50,000 low-income people will be employed. Those whose daily income will be Tk two to five thousand. About Tk one crore will be deposited in the revenue book of Bangladesh government every year.
Ashura beel is a huge reservoir of about five kilometers in length between about 20-30 species of trees and various species of wildlife. Its area is about 656.45 acres. The bill covers about 269.23 acres in Dhanjhuri, Kalishahar and Satani Khasalpur mouzas of Khanpur union of Birampur upazila and about 56.22 acres in Haripur, Khatkhatia, Krishnapur, Alokdhuti and Bara Jalalpur mouzas of Golapganj union of Nawabganj upazila.
There are various endangered species of fish including red khalshe, dhedhal and kakila in the water of the beel. Boal, ayr, carrot, shoal pabda, shrimp, tengra, kai, magur, putti and baim fish are available in the bill during the full season.
According to the local fisheries department, about 265 tons of native species of fish can be obtained from Ashura beel every year through proper maintenance. With which the demand for fish in the greater Dinajpur district can be met.
A fish sanctuary has been set up in 20 acres of water through Ashura Beel Fishermen’s Association. Fish fry are released here every year through the Department of Fisheries. During the last two decades, thousands of birds of different species including Balihans, Giriyahans, Hottiti, Rangamuri, White Manikjor and Shamukkhol come to this bill during winter.
Ashura beel is surrounded on three sides by the second largest sal forest in Bangladesh. This sal forest is covered with 517.61 hectares of protected forest area. 345.95 acres of land to the west of this forest is part of Birampur upazila. The rest is in Nawabganj upazila. Apart from willow trees, there are about 20 to 30 different species of trees including teak, gamar, kadai, cane, bamboo and jam. Cats, geckos, beji, snakes and various species of birds are often seen in the forest.
After being recognized as a national park in 2010, Shalban was renamed as Sheikh Russell National Park. The largest wooden bridge in North Bengal connects the Shalban on both sides of the Ashura beel filled with water lilies and lotus flowers. The 900-meter-long wooden bridge is bounded on the west by Khatkhatia Krishnapur in Birampur and on the east by Nawabganj.
The bridge, built on the initiative of the local administration, was inaugurated on June 1, 2019 and named Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Wooden Bridge. Thousands of visitors come here every day to see Ashura beels and wooden bridges. People on both sides of the bill travel through the bridge. It also connects Haripur Bazar in the east and Haripur Bazar in the west.
The local administration is preparing a master plan around the national park, wooden bridge and Ashura bill named after two members of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family. The master plan was revealed at a meeting organized by Nawabganj Upazila Administration in the last two months at the presentation of a consulting engineering firm called Sarm Associates Limited.
Entrepreneurs claim that a famous mega project of the government will change the famous Ashura bill of North Bengal. The living conditions of thousands of people in Dinajpur and surrounding districts will change.
According to the plan, in order to protect the environment of the beel and forest through a mega project, the beel will be excavated in an area of 9 and a quarter kilometer to retain natural plants and water throughout the year. In all, the work will cover an area of 14.24 sq km. One of the sources of water in the bill will be the extracted water from the Barapukuria coal mine in the adjoining Parbatipur upazila.
The largest tourist destination in the planned country will have three entrances and one exit. There will be a tall Bangabandhu Tower for nature lovers. At the top of which the whole Shalban and Ashura beel can be seen. Information on the history and heritage of the freedom struggle of Bangladesh will be depicted on the stairs of this tower. Five or six people can climb the stairs of Bangabandhu Tower together.
There will be a 300-seat amphitheater in front of the tower. There will be entertainment through healthy cultural events. There will be an aesthetic road inside the Shalban. There will be eco-friendly and noiseless small car system for the movement of tourists. There will be seasonal flowering trees on both sides of the road and two food courts.
There will be boat clubs in three spots of the beel filled with four species of water lilies and lotus leaves. Nature lovers will be immersed in the water by boating in the water of the various water lilies-lotus beels flowing in a spiral through the forest. When they come here, they will feel the legend of Amazon. There will be a spectacular pedestrian bridge in the middle of the beel from the three forests on three sides of the beel. When you come here, you will get lost in the nature.
Standing in front of the island-like resort in the middle of the bill, you can see the amazing beauty of the forest. There will be overnight stays for tourists from home and abroad. There will be washrooms, restrooms and prayer rooms. There will be a coffee shop here. The restaurant will have a variety of local food arrangements. The roof of the resort will have veggies in the rain, and the blue sky will be visible in the afternoon. Lying in a glass house, you can see the moonlight at night.
Lying in a glass house, you can see the moonlight at night. You can reach the window and touch the flickering firefly. The resort will be surrounded by exotic bird sanctuaries.
To ensure the natural food of the birds, there will be various species of fruit trees including jackfruit, mango, fig, lotcon, chapalish and khudijam. There will be aquariums rich in beautiful fish of different species. Police boxes and Ansar checkposts will be set up at several places to ensure the safety of tourists at all times.
Asked, Birampur Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Parimal Kumar said, “The mega project planned for Ashura Beel and Shalban will protect the natural environment and make it one of the largest tourist destinations in the country.” Then foreign tourists and environmentalists will come here to study biodiversity. Students from home and abroad will come on educational tour. This will create employment for thousands of people in Birampur and Nawabganj upazilas.
Shibli Sadiq, Member of Parliament from Dinajpur-6 constituency and a member of the Standing Committee of the Ministry of Social Welfare, told about the master plan for the Amazon in North Bengal.
And the Prime Minister knows this. A mega project worth about Tk 1,200 crore. A 3D animation file with the details of the master plan will be presented to the Prime Minister soon.
Shibli Sadiq further said that if the mega project is implemented, it will be the largest tourist destination in Bangladesh. As a result, about 50,000 people from Birampur and Nawabganj upazilas, including hundreds of families from Bilpar in Ashura, will have access to employment and tourism-oriented businesses. They will be able to earn Tk two to five thousand every day. About two lakh people of Birampur, Nawabganj and adjoining upazilas will be able to make a living in one to one and half years after the launch of the project.
Two years after the completion of the project, the government will get about Tk 1000 crore revenue every year from the mega project. And this revenue will increase at a significant rate every year.
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