One of the huts for overnight stay at Aamadubi in East Singhbhum
The much-promised taste of that typical tribal life will continue to elude tourists from the state as well as outside for some time now, with the ambitious rural tourism project at Aamadubi in East Singhbhum’s Dhalbhumgarh block hitting a funds hurdle.
The district administration, which sent a team of three to the village a few months ago, is dissatisfied with the quality of the ongoing work being undertaken by Jamshedpur-based NGO Kalamandir — the implementing agency of the project — and has clamped a freeze on release of money.
Although a major portion of the Rs 44-lakh project, which kicked off in June 2010 and was supposed to be ready last year, has been completed, many areas need finishing touches to develop the place into a composite rural tourism site. About Rs 36 lakh has been disbursed, but for completion of the project, Kalamandir requires the remaining Rs 8 lakh, which rests with the district administration.
“We visited Aamadubi in March. What we saw, especially the quality of work, did not impress us at all. The implementing agency has not done its job properly and hence, we cannot disburse the remaining amount. We have recommended a number of changes besides asking Kalamandir to submit a report on the work done so far,” said Ajay Kumar, district planning officer of East Singhbhum, who is a also member of the district project implementation committee.
The rural tourism project is a joint venture between the Union tourism ministry and state tourism department, which aims at promoting the rural sites of Jharkhand. Although the Centre has coughed up the fund, the onus is on the state government to monitor construction work like boundary wall and approach road, provisions of electricity, water supply, parking space and other amenities.
Located about 66km from the steel city of Jamshedpur, a two-acre plot between Aamadubi and Panijia village is being developed to attract tourists. Four eco-friendly cottages, on the lines of the mud huts of Santhalis, have been built for overnight stay. There is also a tribal museum, two open circular rooms and a kitchen doling out tribal cuisine like rice crispies, jaggery, peetha, chicken khichdi and more.
A village tourism development committee, comprising 10 villagers, has been formed to look after hospitality of the guests.
However, officials of Kalamandir said that unless funds were released, they would not be able to complete the project.
“We have spent money from our own resources, but even that is not enough and we desperately need more funds. I don’t know why the district officials are not happy with our work when we have toiled day and night to develop the area. Some visitors who came here also liked the entire set-up and the attractions on offer,” said Amitava Ghosh, secretary, Kalamandir.
Sujit Das, project co-ordinator of Kalamandir who is looking after the development of Aamadubi site, said that he was being flooded with calls from interested tourists from Bengal.
“We had advertised about Aamadubi in a Bengali magazine last year. Since then, people from Bengal have been calling with queries like if the place is ready to host tourists and if not, when the project will be completed. Many think that Aamadubi will be a perfect weekend getaway, but sadly, I guess they have to wait a little longer,” said Das.