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The first-ever Bharat-Bangla Paryatan Utsav (Indo-Bangladesh tourism festival) held in Agartala on Feb 20-21 has opened up a new horizon of economic development for Tripura, which not only exposed the cultural and socio-linguistic assets of the state also strengthens historical contact among the people of both countries. The historical monument and cultural hub of Tripura Ujjayanta Palace were illuminated with colourful lights and eye-catching decoration that attracted thousands of tourists across the globe. The special session during the festival was organised to revisit the memories of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh and the role of Tripura people. The festival has commemorated the language martyrs who have sacrificed their lives seeking recognition of Bengali language on Feb 21 in world mother tongue day. Apart from cultural performances, prominent personalities of Bangladesh and opinion leaders have visited the important tourist destinations and the places in Tripura, where Mukti Yuddhas (freedom fighters) had taken shelter.
A delegation of Bangladesh took part in the festival and visited various places that were linked with the Liberation War. They visited the orchard of Habul Banerjee at Melaghar which is now under Agriculture department, which was the first field hospital run by Dr Jafurulla to treat the injured freedom fighters along with Indo-Bangla Maitri Park which was set up to revive the memories of 1971 war at Chottakhola in South Tripura and martyr's column of Elbert Ekka at Dukli. Several important personalities, politicians, artists, journalists, travel writers and bloggers had joined the festival from Bangladesh and other parts of the country where Tripura Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) show cased the major attractions of the state before the international community. The Member of Bangladesh Parliament Dr Abdus Shahid who led the delegation from neighbouring country mentioned that the festival has not only revisited the history of the Liberation War but also help strengthen the bondage between the two countries. To boost tourism in Tripura, the state government had organized daylong events including seminars, discussions, and cultural functions, visit the important tourist spots, historical and archaeological sites.
Tripura government moved in bigger way after getting Rs 165 Cr fund under the Swadesh Darshan scheme for development of tourism spots and archaeological sites in more than 25 places in the state. The Union Tourism Ministry under the Swadesh Darshan scheme had sanctioned Rs 1,400 crore projects for the eight north-eastern states in the past five years for the promotion and development of theme-based tourist circuits. Tourism Minister Pranajit Singharoy said that the tea has been included in tourism basket of Tripura, which will bring long term benefits and immense opportunities for the state in the future. Tripura aimed to start the best quality tea to Bangladesh replacing its current supply chain from Sri Lanka and Prime Ministers of both India and Bangladesh are positive in the deal. He stated that his government had approved the amendment of Tripura Land Record and Land Reform Act, which proposed to allow the maximum five percent of the total land of tea estate left unused for development of eco-tourism infrastructure for revenue-generating activities.
Tea is the oldest industry of Tripura and BJP-IPFT government since the beginning has given priority for reviving the lost glory of tea. Besides, logistic difficulties and financial problems, tea estates could not flourish at the extent over the past few years. But the state government finds an option to supplement the income of the gardens through tourism activities, Singharoy said. He pointed out that most of the tea estates have left with a sizeable land plot abandoned. Since exiting provision of law does not allow any conversion of tea estate land for non-tea purpose, the government moved to amend the Act to allow the management to build up good hotels, restaurants, and golf course in the green surroundings of tea to facilitate the tourists. 
Biswendu Bhattacharjee

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