A file photo of Dassam Falls at Bundu in Ranchi
Ranchi, Jan. 5: The state tourism department, in the line of fire for frequent incidents of drowning at Dassam Falls, is all set to seek police help to rein in villagers, who are often accused of “derailing” important projects related to tourist safety at this prominent hot spot.
State tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty, who has been drawing flak from different sections, confirmed that he would soon write to his counterpart in the home department N.N. Pandey and state director-general of police Rajeev Kumar, requesting for a police picket near the notorious falls in Bundu for greater vigil.
“I will write to the state home secretary and the DGP in a couple of days, seeking permanent presence of security personnel in the form of a police picket for maintaining law and order in the area,” Chakraborty told The Telegraph.
Located on the Ranchi-Tata highway (NH-33), Dassam Falls has always been infamous for drowning incidents due to reasons ranging from visitors’ callousness to lack of safety apparatus.
This picnic season, the falls that often turns into a watery grave has already claimed two lives — a schoolboy from Hazaribagh on December 24 and an unidentified youth, whose body is yet to be fished out, on January 1.
The deaths at the falls within a span of a week sent shock waves across the state, prompting the hapless tourism department to declare Dassam “unsafe” and “dangerous”.
Nevertheless, thousands of picnickers and tourists are still flocking the area.
Chakraborty admitted attaching a “unsafe” tag with Dassam wasn’t a long-term solution.
“Officially, the administration cannot ban people from visiting the falls. The only solution is to upgrade facilities for safety of tourists. But, local villagers have held this place to ransom and aren’t allowing us to work,” he rued.
Therefore, the tourism department is now looking forward to police help to begin work on improving amenities and safety measures for visitors.
Currently, there is a picket at Taimaraghati, around 10km from the falls.
However, owing to prevailing Naxalite threat, police prefer not to venture in the area, except on special occasions such as Christmas, New Year or Republic Day.
“Having police 24/7 at Dassam can be lethal for us as we will become an easy target for Maoists,” said a local police officer from the Taimaraghati picket.
Dassam connects to Bundu and Tamar in Ranchi and Arki in Khunti, which are considered rebel hotbeds.
“There has not been any major Naxalite attacks in the recent times. But, on back foot due to sustained anti-Naxalite operations, Maoists may use this opportunity to lay traps,” he added.
A senior tourism department official, however, countered police’s logic.
“Can one sit back citing security issues? If security forces fear Maoists, how can you curse the tourism department for not developing the site?” the official questioned, not willing to be named.
He added that the department, with the help of local administration, often tried to initiate development work there, but failed as local people kept destroying them.
“If police pickets can come up in Saranda, considered to be more dangerous in terms of Maoist threat, to pave the way for development, why not Dassam?”