Birsa Vihar Tourist Complex on Main Road in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Sept. 19: A private company chosen to run a refurbished state tourist complex in the state capital early this year has jumped the gun and begun operations even before fulfilling certain conditions in its agreement with Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC), in yet another instance of the ham-handed manner in which state government entities function.
JTDC MD Sunil Kumar is unaware that Birsa Vihar Tourist Complex is accepting bookings for weddings and meetings. It has been doing so since June. He is also oblivious of the fact that Bokaro-based Hans Regency isn’t paying the corporation a stipulated fee of Rs 5 lakh per month.
As per an outsourcing agreement signed by JTDC in January, Hans Regency would be maintaining and operating the state guest house for 16 years.
But before being handed over the the property, Hans Regency was to submit a detailed project report elaborating its plan. And only after the plan was formally approved by the state tourism department, would the hotel be allowed to take over.
But as The Telegraph has found out, the complex has been functioning since June.
It hosted a wedding reception on Sunday. Yesterday, this correspondent, posing as a customer, was able to book a banquet hall and a few rooms for a private function scheduled for September 28.
Manager S.N. Ganguly, a senior employee of Hans Regency, worked out the costs and confirmed the booking: Rs 1.58 lakh in all for meals (day-night) and double occupancy for 30 guests.
He even offered a discount. “After consultations with my management, we have decided not to charge you for the mandap (banquet hall). We have just launched the property and want to promote it. Also, it’s not the peak season,” he added, kindly.
According to a source, the tourist complex was doing fairly good business. “The response has been good as a minimum of seven to eight big-ticket bookings take place every month. This apart, the occupancy rate for rooms is also high,” he said.
As of yesterday, 12 of 30 rooms were booked.
But, strangely MD Kumar said the hotel would begin operations in a month or two. “The hotel is in the process of being operational. It will take another one or two months to get operational,” he said.
Can the outsourced agency accept bookings?
“No… I am not aware of this. We will order an inquiry if it is so,” he added.
Kumar was also unable to say why JTDC wasn’t insisting on the Rs 5 lakh fee.
Hans Regency, however, maintained, they were running the complex on a trial basis. “We aren’t committing fraud. We are seeing if this hotel can be run or not,” said Birsa Vihar Tourist Complex general manager Sanjay Singh. “The idea is to tell people that a hotel exists here,” he said.
Asked about the earnings, Singh said it wasn’t much. “Everything goes into employee payments and maintenance of the hotel,” he added.
Built in the ’90s, Birsa Vihar Tourist Complex has had a chequered past. Situated on the Main Road, bang opposite Ranchi Club, it was shut down in 2007 after a costly makeover, mismanagement and allegations of funds bungling.
The January deal with Hans Regency was JTDC’s way of saving the showpiece property.