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Tourism mocks toilet deadline
Basic amenities like water kiosks not ready near six falls

If you had believed the state tourism department would construct drinking water kiosks, toilets and children’s corners at the six waterfalls near Ranchi by Republic Day, you had been way too trusting.

As perhaps expected, the Republic Day deadline given to the tourism department by Jharkhand High Court on basic people-friendly facilities has become another date on the calendar. None of the facilities are ready as promised.

On November 27, 2013, Jharkhand High Court, while hearing a PIL, summoned then tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty and officials to know why tourist spots did not have basic amenities. Chakraborty had then told the court that frequents transfers and acute manpower shortage hindered their work. Tourism department officials also inspected nearby tourist spots in Ranchi in November-end.

In the hearing on December 3, 2013, tourism department officials told the high court that they would install toilets, drinking water kiosks and recreational facilities for children at six waterfalls — Dassam, Jonha, Hirni, Hundru, Sita and Panchghagh.

In response, the court gave them a deadline of January 26, 2014.

In the January-end reshuffle, Vishnu Kumar became the new tourism secretary while Chakraborty was transferred to transport department. And nothing significant really happened as far as toilets and drinking water kiosks went.

More than a fortnight after the deadline, Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) managing director Sunil Kumar, now in charge of the project, couldn’t state the exact compliance status.

“I don’t know the exact status but work is on in all places. No major work, only construction of toilets and drinking water arrangements were needed to be done,” he told The Telegraph over phone.

Asked why the delay, he claimed they had some problems with sand acquisition “because of the ban on its lifting”.

“Since toilets were to be of concrete, sand was a key resource. Work should be in final phases now. I am going to hold a review meeting tomorrow (Monday) in this regard to find out the exact status,” he said.

He added a post-script. “At Dassam, we couldn’t do anything so far because of problems with residents,” he said.

A man drowned at Dassam on January 1, but his body was not recovered, causing resentment in the area.

When The Telegraph asked a tourist who visited Panchghag and Hirni on Saturday, February 8, he said he hardly found any construction work.

“It was a warm day but there were no kiosks for water, forget cold drinks. There were no toilets, about which I had warned the ladies beforehand in our group. The only visible construction was some unfinished civil work at Panchghagh,” said bank official Rajesh Dey, a resident of Ranchi’s Morabadi, who had taken his outstation guests for a tour.

Of the three promised facilities, children’s corner seems a luxury compared to toilets and drinking water. Even if tourists lug bottles or buy mineral water on the way to the falls, lack of toilets is a major hurdle, especially for women.

“Ranchi has terrific waterfalls. I feel proud when visitors say movies should be shot here. When they draw attention to the utter civic neglect, it embarrasses me,” Dey said.

What’s the one amenity you wish for at a tourist spot?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com