Maoist fear keeps Similipal National Park shut

Bhubaneswar, Nov 13 (IANS) Orissa’s famed Simlipal National Park, one of India’s first Project Tiger reserves, is shut despite the onset of the tourist season due to Maoist threat, an official said Saturday.

Maoists blew up several forest offices, guest houses, bridges and attacked some tourists at the national park in March last year. Since then, the park has been closed for tourists.

‘There has been no decision to open the park for tourists this year. We are in favour of opening it but the state home department is reluctant citing security reasons,’ state Chief Wildlife Warden P.N. Padhi told IANS.

Simlipal’s director H.S. Upadhyay said the park can be opened if the police provides adequate security to the tourists.

Located in Mayurbhanj district, some 320 km from here, Simlipal is home to many Royal Bengal Tigers and elephants. Spread over 845.70 sq km, the park usually remains open for visitors from Nov 1 to June 15.

In 2008, 14,041 domestic and 141 foreign tourists visited the park.

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