By Kaushik Chakraborty 

DIBRUGARH: Assam is fast emerging as a major tourist destination in India and is counted as one of the prime eco-tourism destinations in India.

Eco tourism in Assam attracts a large number of nature lovers and animal lovers who love to see the colourful wildlife in their natural habitat.

Government of Assam has been working really hard to develop the ecotourism in Assam but there are still a lot of places which needs the attention from the Assam Government.

One such place is which is situated at Naharkatia in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh.

Spread over 1550 bighas of land Merbeel  is known for its rich  bio diversity. Merbeel (Wetland in English) witnesses huge numbers of migratory birds every year.

Monimanik Gogoi, a former Ulfa leader who is also known as the main architect behind Sasoni Merbeel eco- tourism project saw the huge potential of Sasoni to become an eco-tourism hotspot and has been working really hard since the last 10 years to develop this place for eco tourism.

He has engaged a lot of villagers from nearby villages in this project and helped them become self employed by encouraging them to have confidence in themselves.

The former ULFA leader had faced lots of difficulties during the initial days of the project but his strong determination and positive attitude helped him  overcome the challenging times.

“Sasoni Merbeel is known as the ‘Island of Silence’ because of its calmness and cool environment.

“I cannot express this feeling in words because it is something different. We have a well-dedicated team which is working hard for the conservation of Sasoni Merbeel,” Monimanik Gogoi said.

“Merbeel is an Island and a remarkable biodiversity hotspot. It is a place of natural beauty not only in terms of its mystic charm but also in the qualities of its wildlife,” Gogoi added.

“The mystic natural and precious natural wealth can turn this place (island) into one of the most cherished tourist destinations in the state,” he further said.

The place is rich in birds, animals, butterflies, fish, tortoises, python, snakes, etc. and the hospitable people here makes the discerning travellers spellbound. Every year tourists from foreign countries visit Merbeel for birdwatching.

“We have built four cottages for night stay but it is not started yet. Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) has helped us with funds to construct the cottages. A total of 8 families can stay in the cottages.” Mr Gogoi said.

Oil India Limited has donated Rs 1 crore 16 lakh for the development of the Sasoni Merbeel eco-tourism project.

“For the conservation of Sasoni Merbeel, the villagers have played a crucial role by donating their land for the project. Everyone has participated in the project,” Gogoi further said.

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