When the government is planning to declare Moulvibazar a "tourism district" given its so many attractions, the entry of tea gardens has been made off-limits to visitors.
Even no-entry signboards have been hanged at some places.
Businessmen involved in the tourism industry say the number of tourists coming to the district will fall drastically if their entry is stopped in this way, resulting in financial losses for them.
Besides, it will have a long-term impact on tourism as every year thousands of tourists flock to various picturesque spots in Moulvibazar. A large number of them come to see the tea gardens only.
The district administration says they will resolve this issue after meeting with the tea garden owners.
The valleys in each upazila of the district are adorned with rows of tea gardens. The green beauty attracts tourists of all ages. Many foreign tourists also come to see the gardens. There are also beautiful artificial lakes inside the gardens.
But the tea garden authorities have been preventing tourists from entering the gardens and taking photographs, which is actually a hindrance to the development of the tourism industry in the district.
Lakes in the Patralekha tea garden in Komolganj upazila are crowded by migratory birds every year. Jumping of chirping birds in lake water is a sight no one wants to miss. And tourists are keen to experience this mesmerising beauty.
According to the Bangladesh Tea Board, 92 out of 166 tea gardens across the country are located in Moulvibazar.
Each garden has one to two lakes. Most of the lakes in the fold of the mountains are artificially created to facilitate irrigation.
But now the tourists complain they are not allowed to enter the tea gardens and take pictures. Sometimes they are humiliated by the guards at the gardens' entrance.
In the winter, beautiful red lotus floats in the Rehana tea garden lake in Kulaura upazila, adding nature's special touch amid the greenery of the garden.
Abdur Rob, a tourist, took his family to see the flowers. However, he was denied entry into the garden. "We went to the garden very early in the morning, but the tea garden authorities did not let us in," he said.
Most of the tourists, who come to Moulvibazar, also visit Sreemangal to see the lush tea gardens. The Bhurvuria Tea Estate is located next to the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute, one kilometre away from Sreemangal town. The authorities have put up "no-entry" signs to stop tourists from entering the garden and even taking photographs.
Abu Siddique Mohammed Musa, president of the Sreemangal Tourism Services Association, said this situation is turning tourists away.
"Tourists come to see the tea gardens. If they return without being able to do so, the development of the tourism sector in the region will be affected."
He expects an effective action from the local administration to this end.
Tourism-based businessmen say they will be at a financial loss.
SK Das Suman, director of the Greenleaf Guest House and Eco Tourism, said, "Tourists are being deprived of enjoying the nature due to the restriction by the tea garden authorities. Tourists are frustrated that they are not allowed to enter the gardens."
He thinks that such drastic measures will hurt the development of the tourism industry in Sreemangal and will have a long-term impact on the tourism sector in the area.
Shamsul Haque, director of Nisargo Eco Resort, said, "Tourists often tell us that they cannot enter the tea gardens. They return with a heavy heart. Foreign tourists have great interest in tea gardens and tea factories. We have talked to garden owners many times but nothing changed."
Regarding the allegations, GM Shibli, chairman of Bangladeshi Tea Council's Sylhet Circle, said, "Tea gardens make up an entire industry. Production will be hampered if the visitors are allowed to enter those."
"If a visitor rips leaves or stems of a tea tree, at the end of the day, it will cause us great harm. It is in the government policy that the tea gardens cannot be used for anything else, which means it cannot be used for tourism as well," he added.
In this regard, Deputy Commissioner of the district Nazia Shirin said, "I have heard about the restrictions on tourists in the tea gardens. We will talk to the garden owners and managers soon so that they allow tourists' access."