The department on Sunday came up with an order of ban, making it off-limits to tourists
The watchtower at Ratargul Swamp Forest, one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, built six years back in Gowainghat upazila of Sylhet, has been closed to tourists as it has turned risky.
Environmentalists said the Forest Department constructed the watchtower at Jalarban Ratargul of Goanaighat in Sylhet in 2014 to overlook the entire forest from one place. The watchtower was built six years ago but now has become risky for visitors. The forest department recently declared the tower risky and banned visitors from climbing the tower.
The department on Sunday came up with an order of ban, making it off-limits to tourists. Forest department officials said a signboard in this regard was hung up after the ban had been imposed.
The tower, in fact, turned risky a long time ago and the department put up a signboard instructing that only 4-5 people can climb the watchtower together, said Saad Uddin Ahmed, forester of Sylhet Forest Division.
“But no one follows the rule. Accidents may happen any time. Therefore we have closed the watchtower to tourists from today until further notice,” said the official.
The environmentalists had warned that the tower would increase the number of tourists inside the forest which would destroy its environment and biodiversity.
At one stage, the construction work on the tower was halted twice in the face of protests, but it was later completed and opened to tourists.
Ratargul Swamp Forest is an area of 504.50 acres and was declared as a 'Reserve Forest' in 1973. The entire area, surrounded by rivers and haors, is an attractive place for nature lovers.
The forest caught the attention of tourists after reports run by a few media outlets in 2012.
Hundreds of people have been visiting the spot every day since to enjoy its unique beauty and biodiversity.
Aiming to promote tourism, the department constructed the watchtower and several other structures in the forest spending Tk 90.62 lakh, ignoring protests by environmentalists.