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HC orders tourism funds monitor

Jharkhand High Court on Monday asked the state government to constitute a committee to monitor spending of central funds earmarked for tourism projects.

A division bench of Justices D.N. Patel and P.P. Bhatt issued the instruction while hearing a PIL on poor development of tourism in the state filed by Ranchiís Babloo Kumar. The bench, which had pulled up state tourism officials on November 26 while responding to the PIL, said the government must form a monitoring committee that will supervise how Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) was utilising allocated funds to develop tourist spots.

ITDC itself faced flak from the court for not doing enough to spruce up tourist hotspots and failing to cash in on Jharkhandís tourism potential.

Abhishek Mohan, the corporationís senior manager in charge of tourism development in Jharkhand, who was present in the court, informed the bench that they had sanctioned Rs 38 crore in August 2012 for 34 projects across the state. The money had to be utilised within 18 months from the date of sanction.

But the court made it clear that it was not happy with the way things have proceeded so far. It said that the ITDC should take up projects on priority basis and finish as much work as possible by January 26 next year in time for the tourist season.

The high court was also told that a light and sound show would start in Shilpgram in Deoghar for which the ITDC has already spent Rs 1.37 crore. A similar light and sound project is being planned in Kanke Dam in the state capital, Mohan said.

But the bench noted that no one had ever heard of the Deoghar project and asked ITDC to commission it within next month.

Petitioner Babloo Kumar has argued that ITDC sanctions crores to Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) for promoting tourism in the state. But on several occasions, the money has lapsed for want of proper utilisation, Kumar said.