GUWAHATI: In a significant development, Dehing Patkai National Park in Assam has officially opened its doors to the public. The announcement came during an inauguration ceremony attended by the state's Forest Minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary. Minister Patowary, addressing the occasion, highlighted the state government's commitment to the park's development, emphasizing the potential for further enhancements.
The inauguration ceremony, attended by dignitaries including Thowra constituency MLA Sushanta Borgohain and Digboi MLA Suren Phukan, marked a milestone for the conservation of the unique biodiversity within the park. The state government's investment in the construction of the park's main gate, amounting to approximately Rs 10 lakh, underscores its dedication to providing a welcoming and accessible environment for tourists.
Situated in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, the Dehing Patkai National Park spans an expansive 231.65 km2 of lush rainforest. Initially declared a wildlife sanctuary on June 13, 2004, it gained national park status on December 13, 2020. The Forest Department of Assam officially confirmed its designation as a national park on June 9, 2021.
The park, nestled in the Dehing Patkai Landscape, features a dipterocarp-dominated lowland rainforest covering over 575 km2 across Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Charaideo, and extending into Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Notably, it houses the largest expanse of lowland rainforests in India, contributing significantly to the country's rich ecological diversity.
Minister Patowary, also overseeing Industries and Commerce, acknowledged the dual importance of the region's natural resources, combining oil blocks and extensive forest cover. He stressed that both elements are vital contributors to the state's prosperity. Drawing attention to the historic Digboi Refinery, Asia's first and the world's second oil refinery constructed in 1901, he outlined plans for its expansion from a 0.65 MMTPA to 1 MMTPA capacity.
Additionally, the state minister shared ambitious plans for the Numuligarh Refinery, aiming to increase its capacity from approximately 3.95 MMTPA to 9 MMTPA. He revealed ongoing construction on a 1630-kilometer-long pipeline from Odisha's Paradip to Numuligarh, a project initiated by former Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. This pipeline is envisioned to facilitate the transportation of imported crude oil, further bolstering the region's industrial landscape.
As Assam navigates the delicate balance between environmental conservation and industrial progress, the opening of Dehing Patkai National Park signals a renewed commitment to preserving the region's ecological treasures while fostering sustainable development.