Tinsukia. Alarmed over the death of a 35-year-old man in a paragliding accident at the Skyland resort situated inside the eco-sensitive zone of Dibru Saikhowa National Park, the deputy commissioner of Tinsukia on Thursday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

Meanwhile, in order to ensure safety and security of all visitors, DC Tinsukia Narsing Pawar has also suspended all activities at Skyland resort until further orders.

On Wednesday, Lakhimpur-resident Pankaj Gogoi died hours after he fell from a paraglider, sparking fears of absence of adequate safety protocols and measures, and failure on part of the government to monitor and enforce norms and regulate adventure activities.

The development comes amid an ongoing inquiry related to Skyland resort following a public complaint with 36 signatories alleging violation and contravening of the existing provision of Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.

Tinsukia Additional deputy commissioner Monjit Borkakoti, who has been appointed the enquiry officer, has appealed to the witnesses, interested parties and general public having knowledge about the incident to get their statements recorded on January 29.

Borkakoti said, “The district magistrate has entrusted me with an inquiry to examine all aspects of the incident that led to death of a person, including the requisite safety measures of Skyland resort.” 

The owner of Skyland resort has also been directed to submit his written statement in connection with the matter by January 29.

“The DFO, Tinsukia Wildlife Division has also been requested to submit his written statement in connection with the incident,” he added.

Several allegations have been levelled, including operation of a resort inside the eco-sensitive zone of the national park without an NOC from the forest department and the district administration, fearing that it could lead to pollution and disturb the biodiversity of the region, affecting the Dibru Saikhowa national park. The park is identified as an important bird area and famed for the rare white-winged wood ducks as well as feral horses.

What are the activities offered by Skyland resort

From paragliding to jeep/motor ride, camping to trampoline, Skyland resort offers a bunch of activities on a beach island, which is about 1.48 km away from the core boundary of Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The other activities include horse riding, gun shots, beach chair, bonfire and so-on.

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

The sprawling Dibru-Saikhowa, a national park, is situated on the south banks of River Brahmaputra in the extreme eastern corner of Assam with an area of 340 sq km, and is a safe haven for many extremely rare and endangered wildlife species. In 1997, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park became the ninth biosphere reserve out of the total over 18 identified till 2017.

The forest type of Dibru-Saikhowa comprises semi-evergreen forests, deciduous forests, littoral and swamp forests and patches of wet evergreen forests. A total of 36 species of mammals, 104 species of fish, 43 species of reptiles, 105 species of butterflies and above 500 species of birds have so far been recorded from the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. Moreover, 25% of India’s threatened bird species have been found in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

An identified Important Bird Area (IBA), it is famed for the rare white-winged wood ducks as well as feral horses.

Feral horses at the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Fauna: Thirty-six species of mammals have so far been recorded – Tiger, Elephant, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Bears, Small Indian Civet, Squirrels, Gangetic Dolphin, Slow Loris, Assamese Macague, Rhesus Macaque, Capped Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Barking Deer, Water Buffalo, Feral Horses, etc.

Avifauna: It is an identified Important Bird Area (IBA) having more than 382 species of birds, some of which are Greater Adjutant Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Greater Crested Grebe. Large Cormorant, Open bill Stork, Black necked Stork, Large Whistling Teal. Grey leg Goose, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Osprey, Crested Serpent Eagle, Spot Billed Pelican, White Winged Wood Duck, Baer’s Pochard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Pale Capped Pigeon, Great Pied Hornbill, Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, Black Breasted Parrot bill, etc. The park is renowned for natural regeneration of Salix trees.

All attempts to speak to the owner of Skyland resort remained unsuccessful for second day in a row.

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