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Guides at waterfalls this season

Ranchi, Dec. 7: The state tourism department has come up with a plan to improve basic facilities for visitors at popular waterfalls in the outskirts of Ranchi within a couple of weeks after Jharkhand High Court pulled up its secretary for poor upkeep of popular destinations across the state.

If department officials are to be believed, Jonha, Hundru, Dassam, Hirni and Panchghagh falls — major draws for tourists — will have makeshift toilets, change rooms, drinking water facilities from this season itself.

Also, Paryatak Mitras (tourist friends) will be deployed at the falls to ensure safety of visitors, maintain peace, and keep the place neat and tidy, besides addressing their queries.

“Every year, these falls record whopping footfall. Hence, we have decided to make provisions of toilets and change rooms (for men and women) and other facilities,” Sajal Chakraborty, secretary (tourism) told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi.

When asked if the high court’s condemnation had prompted the department to swing into action, he said, “We have been working out various schemes to improve tourism in the state.”

He added that work on the plan would start very soon so that visitors could avail of the facilities from this season.

Generally, tourists start flocking the falls from December 15 and the rush continues till February-end every year.

“Because of a time crunch we are opting for makeshift structures with brick walls and asbestos roofs for the moment. The structures will be ready by January 25,” said Chakraborty.

Further, each of the falls will have as many as 11 Paryatak Mitras, dressed in light green shirts and dark green trousers. “Local boys will be roped in as Paryatak Mitras. We will give them the uniforms,” Chakraborty added.

The department is planing to revive Jonha Mahotsav at the falls from this year. Beginning on December 23, the three-day festival will have cultural events, exhibitions, food stalls, etc.

A division bench of Justice D.N. Patel and Justice P.P. Bhatt had reprimanded Chakraborty and other officials of the department on November 26 for lack of facilities for tourists.

Hearing a PIL, the bench had directed the department to frame plans to improve facilities at Dassam Falls and other scenic spots.

Department officials said if everything went well, visitors would not be disappointed this year.

Also, Jharkhand On Wheels, in association with the department, will offer a “super deluxe package” to tourists from December 15.

R.K. Choudhary, convener of the agency, said, “We will provide a complete package for those who want to visit Jonha falls. We will charge Rs 600 per person. The money will including bus fair, water bottles, breakfast and lunch.”