The Telegraph
Monday , June 16 , 2014
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Lack of harmony hits tourism ambition

- Adventure lovers miss out on thrills and spills of water sports

Lack of coordination between government agencies and support to private firms have apparently led to failure of a few ambitious tourism projects in Patna.

Water-sports at Gandhi Ghat, which was one of the very few recreational facilities available on the banks of Ganga along Patna, can no longer be found.

Royale Ganges Private Limted, the operator running speedboats and jetskis at Gandhi Ghat, has recently rolled back its operations and shifted the vessels to the sea beach at Digha in Bengal.

Royale Ganges, the maiden water adventure sports operator in Patna, was launched on October 2, 2011, with one jetski and one spedboat in public-private partnership mode with Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC).

Tejkar Jha, the director of Royale Ganges, said lack of support from the BSTDC forced them to move to Bengal.

“We were running the water sports facilities for the past one-and-a-half years with minimal assistance from BSTDC. We had sent several letters to the corporation in this regard but in vain. Considering the adverse conditions in which we have been working in Patna, we decided to shift to Bengal,” said Jha.

Deliberating about the lack of assistance from the BSTDC, Jha said: “According to our agreement with the BSTDC, the corporation was supposed to assist us in several ways. The water sports facilities provided by us were supposed to be advertised by BSTDC, which was never done. The BSTDC also did not provide any security arrangement to us for ensuring safe operation as a result there were several incidents of thefts and damage to our equipment in the past.”

He added that the BSTDC did not provide any public utility services, including lavatories and cabin for changing clothes at Gandhi Ghat. “We were never even provided with a ticket counter,” said Jha.

The jetski ran by Royale Ganges accommodated two people apart from a driver and the charges were Rs 200 per person. The speedboat on the other hand, could accommodate six people apart from the driver and the charges were Rs 150 per person.

Museum cafeteria closed

A cafeteria on the northern side of Patna Museum building with seating capacity for 100 and an open-air seating arrangement was closed in March 2013 in the lack of coordination between museum authorities and BSTDC.

BSTDC officials said it was difficult to operate the cafeteria through private firms because of strict restrictions imposed by the museum authorities.

“It was not allowed to keep the cafeteria open after 5pm, the closing time for the museum. Also, it had to be kept closed on Monday, the weekly closing day for the museum. Moreover, parties and other gatherings were also not permitted. Hence, no private caterer or any hotel was ready to operate in such stringent conditions,” said a senior BSTDC official.

Museum authorities, on the other hand, are now mulling to operate the cafeteria on its own.

“We have held discussions with the tourism department and it seems that the condition for operation of the cafeteria don’t support their economy. As a result, we have now decided to operate it by ourself,” said JPN Singh, the additional director of Patna Museum.