Odisha Tourism Development Corporation's Aranya Niwas resort closure affecting tourists

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SummaryIt was once considered to be a tourist's hotspot, was yet to open to receive visitors.

Aranya Niwas, a resort under the jurisdiction of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation located at Lulung in the buffer zone of Similipal National Park and once considered to be a tourist's hotspot, was yet to open to receive visitors.

About 22 km from Baripada, the district headquarter town of Mayurbhanj in Odisha, the beautiful resort which attracted tourists across the nation turned defunct March 2009 following a series of Maoist violence in Similipal sanctuary.

Property worth more than Rupees five crore has become a den of anti-socials and animal hunters, official sources said.

Lulung Aranya Niwas was dedicated to the tourists in April 1989 in the presence of the then Union Tourism Minister Shivraj Patil and Chief minister Janaki Ballav Pattnaik.

The state tourism department had spent more than Rs one crore to set up the tourist resort with provisions of 40 beds, dormitory, dinning hall, garden, lighting through solar energy. It was making profit under the direct control of the department of tourism. The district tourist officer Baripada was looking after its regular activites, they said.

But it was brought under the authority of OTDC from November 11, 1998. Since then the picturesque resort is managed by them. But OTDC management chose to close down the resort after the maoist onslaught in core area of Similapal century zone though it was located outside the core area.

Tourism activites resumed last year but little initiative was taken to reopen the resort for the tourists.

A senior official said that district collector R Prabhakar Patil, S P Kavita Jalan and regional chief conservator of forest Anup Nayak recently visited the site to take stock of the situation.

He said the district collector had urged the secretary, department of tourism to take immediate steps for reopening the resort. "Some initiative is likely to be taken soon to reopen the resort," the official said.

Once considered an attractive destination for tourists, particularly from West Bengal, the closure of the resort is causing inconvenience to the visitors to the Similipal sanctuary.

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