GUWAHATI: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton’s scheduled visit to the Unesco world heritage site Kaziranga National Park next month has irked government officials in Congress-ruled Assam as they have not been officially apprised of it and it comes during Assembly polls and Rongali Bihu celebrations.
A statement from the British High Commission last week said the royal couple would arrive in Mumbai on April 10 and leave for Delhi the next day. They would spend April 12 and 13 at Kaziranga, and then leave for Thimpu in Bhutan. They will wrap up the sojourn with a visit to the Taj Mahal on April 16.
Bharat Narah, media adviser to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, denied having received any official intimation about the visit. “I do not know anything officially,” Mukesh Sahay, Director General of Police told Express. One of his juniors said the visit would increase security concerns as elections would be held close to that time.
“Our preparation to welcome a VVIP begins well ahead of his or her visit to the park, since it involves security. We do not want tourists to suffer,” an official of the Kaziranga National Park said. The state’s Minister for Forest and Environment, Atuwa Munda, said: “Their visit will help promote tourism in the park and support our conservation initiatives.”
A Kensington Palace spokesman said, “The Duke and the Duchess will experience the rich variety of wildlife and pay tribute to the rural traditions of the communities who live around the park.” The visit is being highlighted as a “tribute” to Queen Elizabeth II’s contribution to the Commonwealth ahead of her 90th birthday on April 21. The trip was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK last year.
That July, five international NGOs came together in London to raise 20 million pounds for securing 100 elephant corridors in India by 2025. An agreement was signed at Lancaster House in the presence of Prince Charles and Indian High Commissioner to the UK Ranjan Mathai.