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Unexpected gathering of New Years’ revelers at picturesque Bhimbandh forest covers, the erstwhile safe bastion of Maoists, has indicated the change. State government has initiated special measures for conservation of the forest having natural sources of hot springs while keeping the view of its tourism potentialities.
Bihar government has earlier sanctioned Rs 3.19 crore and works already started in this direction. State deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi recently announced that soon in this year Bhimbandh which is also a wildlife sanctuary, would finally be handed over for public utilization, mainly for tourism.
Located in the laps of Haveli Kharaghpur hill ranges in Munger district, the forest covers also spread across to neighbouring Jamui and Lakhisarai districts’ territories. The forest is famous mainly for its hot springs and people particularly in winter times used to visit the place mainly for get rid of skin related problems. The water is also very useful for people those who have chronical gastro-enteritis problems.
However, in 2000 Maoists captured the forest covers and converted it as their safe bastion. On January 2005 the outfits killed the than superintendent of police, K C Surendar Babu along with his bodyguards inside the forest cover. After that, the outfits destroyed all the forest guesthouse, cafeteria and other tourist points inside the forest cover.
“Since the topography of the forest and the hills are highly inaccessible and interconnected with three districts, the rebels had the opportunities to enjoy easy communications. Hence they managed to develop a corridor while taking the advantages of the inaccessible topography,” admitted former inspector general of police (IG), Bhagalpur range, Sushil M Singh Khopde.
Some former cops earlier posted at Munger and Jamui recalled how Bhimbandh had become synonyms of terror. “No one dared even to venture inside the forest cover even in day times and the movements of police had been completely stopped inside th forest mainly to avoid the rebels,” they recalled. But according to Khopde, after 2014 when a CRPF camp was opened inside the forest cover near Sonarba village, police finally managed to conquer Bhimbandh forest cover from Maoists hands.
However, in reality, the CRPF camp still keeps a strict vigil on every visitors and the western side of the forest cover in Lakhisarai and Jamui still laying without any security covers. “The party men (read Maoists) still came here and spend nights,” confirmed many at the small villagers at the vicinity of the forests in that parts.
Earlier on January 2017 state chief minister, Nitish Kumar visited the forest covers and asked for immediate renovation works so that it could again converted into an ideal tourist spot. The government also sanctioned the amount and directed the forest department to develop and introduce beautification drive at the hot springs. “We are also scheduled to utilize the water from the hot water swimming pulls for irrigational measures while developing channels,” a forest official said. Besides, renovation of tourist
guest house and cafeteria with modern facilities and properly maintained hot water swimming pulls would be main attraction of the spot surrounding by hills and evergreen forest covers, the officer pointed out.
“Really it’s the history of last 25 years, that the government really concentrated and focus on Bhimbandh, changes its fate and also converted it into a ideal tourist spot,” pointed out Suresh Koda, an aged resident of Bhimbandh Basti, a locality inside the forest cover points out the inflow of visitors inside the forest covers.