Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday inaugurated a 95-acre park on Rajmahal hills in Sahebganj, built to preserve the Jurassic-era fossils found at the site. The fossil park in Mandro block, constructed at a cost of Rs 10.79 crore, will also promote eco-tourism, besides generating livelihood for locals, officials said.
Speaking on the occasion, Soren said, “This is one of the biggest treasure troves we have in Jharkhand. Mandro hill is one of the rarest places in the world with such fossil finds... I will visit the park again, and stay back for a day here to learn more about the fossils,” he said.
Several plants and animal fossils of the Jurassic era, estimated to be 200 -145 million years old, have been found on Rajmahal hills -- which run north-south for 193 km from Sahebganj in Jharkhand to Rampurhat in West Bengal – over the past century. Palaeobotanist Birbal Sahani is said to be the first one to have conducted an extensive study of the fossils.
Divisional forest officer (DFO), Sahebganj, Manish Tiwary told PTI, “The park has several facilities including a museum-cum-auditorium, a mini-laboratory, and an eco-tourism complex. It has been built with the objective of generating awareness about the importance of fossil preservation, eco-tourism promotion, and livelihood opportunity creation for locals here”. Private vehicles are not allowed in the park, he said.
“Only battery-operated auto-rickshaw will be able to ply inside, which, in a way, will create job opportunities for locals,” he said. Besides, there is a rest house, where students and researchers could stay and study, Tiwari explained.
“Sidhu-Kanhu University, Dumka, will soon tie-up with Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences in Uttar Pradesh to carry forward the research work on the fossils,” he said.