Place: Kanke Dam
Promise: Ropeway, son et lumière, boating club, manicured gardens and food kiosks
Place: Getalsud Dam
Promise: Boating and other tourism paraphernalia, people-friendly atmosphere
Place: Dhurwa Dam
Promise: Shikaras, Chokhi Dhani makeover
Place: Tagore Hill
Promise: Cultural centre
Behold some of the celebrated getaways of Ranchi that are sandwiched between tall claims and extreme inefficiency, courtesy a laggard state tourism department and totally unwilling city planners.
All the four capable crowd-pullers and many others of their ilk are fast morphing into crime dens for want of proper monitoring for two years or more. Unabated growth of wild weeds, administrative abandonment and isolation from police vigil are helping the once picturesque reservoirs and hills to harbour a vile crop of delinquents — from juvenile addicts to potential rapists.
Examples of anarchy are aplenty.
On Sunday, a 12-year-old resident of Kantatoli escaped a rape bid at Getalsud, aka Rukka Dam, when three of her neighbours in their early 20s lured her to the less frequented area. At this very place, a college girl was gang-raped by four youths in March this year.
At Dhurwa Dam, the body of a Bokaro boy was recovered on Sunday morning. In April, a teenaged girl attempted suicide at Kanke Dam. And, one hears of visitors being harassed by drug peddlers at Tagore Hill on a regular basis.
A senior officer of Ormanjhi police station, which extends jurisdiction over Rukka Dam, admitted that there was a spurt in both organised and unorganised crimes in the area. He, however, squarely blamed tourism bosses and city planners for the menace, saying they lacked vision.
“I don’t deny that it is our job to ensure a crime-free city. Despite challenges like manpower crunch and inadequate logistics support, we are doing all that is possible to stem incidents. For instance, we rescued a minor from being raped after local residents sounded an alert. Police cannot be omnipresent. The administration needs to shoulder some responsibility as do citizens,” he said on the condition of anonymity.
The officer added: “Had the tourist spots been developed with proper security arrangements, they would have been big draws. And, criminals don’t flourish in places frequented by visitors. Isolated spots offer opportunities.”
Tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty claimed his boss Suresh Paswan had visited Jagannathpur Temple and Hatia Dam among others on Monday. “I agree that abandoned sites have become breeding grounds for illegal activities. It is in this regard that the minister reviewed the spots where we will take up upgrade work soon,” he said.
Chakraborty pointed out that Tagore Hill was already being revamped. “A boundary wall has been raised. Within the next 10-12 days, a gate and ticket counters will come up. A private security agency is being looked for at the moment.”
He added: “The minister is eager to roll out development projects. Tourist information centres will be revived in a week’s time. In a fortnight, the minister is expected to hold a news conference to announce our vision for winter tourism.”
A.B. Kumar — the Jharkhand in-charge of ITDC, which has included some of Ranchi’s hot spots for renovation and upgrade as part of a tourist circuit — told The Telegraph that they were “working out modalities” for the project. “The ITDC has agreed to develop Hatia and Rukka dams as well as the Hundru Falls,” he said.
On being pointed out that the state government has been planning the same for long, he added: “I certainly can’t comment about the state government. But, currently, we are facing problems in identifying agencies to work with. Honestly, no one is forthcoming in taking up tourism jobs in Jharkhand for reasons best known to them. In fact, for each site, we have had to float tenders over three-four times.”
Offering some hope, he further said: “For Rukka and Hundru, estimates have been finalised and we will soon come up with tenders. Dhurwa Dam will be next.”
Do you think the minister’s visit will make any difference?