|Room for development
The government’s dream of a decent eatery on the highway is a long way from fruition.
In May last year, a policy to upgrade dhabas on the highways in the state was announced. The policy aimed to improve the infrastructure and facilities at the eateries in a bid to attract more tourists to Bihar.
The ambitious plan has managed to attract a handful of dhaba owners so far and only three establishments have passed the government’s verification process. The three dhabas that have been cleared for the upgrade are on the Gaya-Jehanabad route.
Under the project, owners of roadside eateries or dhabas would be provided Rs 1 lakh annually for five years to develop the infrastructure.
Sources in the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation said the verification process that involves a check of the land documents was taking time.
In December last year, the tourism department had claimed that 13 dhaba owners operating on highways around the state had elicited interest in the policy.
An official said: “Three dhabas located on the Gaya-Jehanabad route have been finalised under the policy. Owners interested in the policy are sending in their applications but the verification process is taking time. The department first needs to verify that the eatery and the land on which it is situated belong to the owner concerned. The documents need to be properly checked, so there have been some delays. Once the verification process is complete, more eateries will be cleared for the project.”
To upgrade the eatery, the owners would have to ensure a clean dining hall, a hygienic kitchen, a clean bathroom and adequate parking space.
Another official said: “If the land documents are found to be genuine and in order, the owner would have to sign an agreement with the department upon which Rs 5 lakh will be released. The amount would not be released at one go but over five years. Rs 1 lakh will be released to the owner every year for the eatery’s development.”
He added: “The department has hired some architects who would prepare an outline for changes to be made to the eateries. The final design will depend on the owner’s approval. It is an attractive policy and we hope in time, it would gain momentum.”
An official said: “Till August, 64.95 lakh domestic tourists visited Bihar this year, while the foreign tourist count rests at 4 lakh. But the state lags behind when it comes to providing basic infrastructure to the visitors. We need to first provide the tourists basic amenities and roadside infrastructure is one of them.”