Forum demands rooting out sour spots in Nagaland tourism
Dimapur, Feb. 10 (EMN): A local activist group has appealed to the Nagaland government to formulate a tourism policy to ‘make the department a tourist friendly’ and generate revenue instead of being an agency that merely organises festive events.
The Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) has raised a number of queries to the government especially in regard to tourism facilities such as resorts and lodges being built on private lands of politicians and government officials. These facilities are then converted to private properties of government people, the forum stated.
The NPRAAF issued a press release on Monday lamenting that the Tourism department cannot create any capital asset while tourist lodges are running on a loss.
‘The NPRAAF appeals to the government of Nagaland to formulate a comprehensive policy on tourism to make the department tourist-friendly and revenue-generating department instead of merely engaging the department to (organise) annual Hornbill Festival alone,’ the press release stated.
‘It is unfortunate that the tourism department could not create any capital asset in the state except a tourist lodge in Dimapur. Even though the department has tourist lodges in Kohima, Wokha and Mokokchung, it has been privatised and all the tourist lodges including Dimapur’s are running on loss.’
The group stated that the government of India sanctions annually over INR 100 crore for promotion of the tourism sector in the state through centrally sponsored schemes and the North Eastern Council.
Tourism on politicians, bureaucrats’ lands, no revenue
‘However, all the tourist resorts and tourist reception centres constructed by the department through the fund could not generate any revenue to help the state economy as all the resort were built on a private land are mostly owned by politicians and bureaucrats and therefore, the tourist reception centres and tourist resorts has become a private property or a VIP farm house.’
The NPRAAF has suggested that, ‘henceforth, all development projects of tourism should be on a government-purchased land in accordance with the government’s standing order and the order should be strictly followed so that no tourism property should become a private property or VIP farm house after completion of the projects.’
Further, the NPRAAF has demands to know from the government if the assets created on the former and present bureaucrats and politicians’ private land funded through centrally sponsored schemes and NEC will continue to be a private or public property.
‘What is the government’s plan on those assets?’ the forum asked.
The press release stated: ‘NPRAAF demands that, in the larger interest of the state govt. constructing tourist resorts or tourist reception centres on a private land other than on government-owned land should execute MoU with the landowner.’
‘It should stating that no land owner after completion of the projects shall claim the property on the land nor sell off the land along with the property under any pretext, as there has been such cases as well in the recent past and therefore, should be discouraged.’
Working with NGOs
The NPRAAF also suggested to the government that it set up a special committee involving some NGOs to identify tourist spots and build facilities for tourists ‘so that the potential tourist may enjoy the hospitality and good environment during their stay or visit to the state.’
‘Otherwise, the recent award to Nagaland for the most promising destination award 2019 at the travel and the tourism fair in Mumbai by the Tourism Network will signify nothing unless the most promising destination is made tourist friendly.’
“It is a matter of sadness that even though the government of India has sanctioned over INR 100 crore annually ie., 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, under the scheme of Swadesh Darshan alone, there is zero productivity through the said scheme,” the press release stated.
Tourism and engineering
The NPRAAF also observed that the engineering wing of Tourism department should work in close coordination with tourist officers of the state if the department has to function efficiently, “which has been lacking.”
“The tourism infrastructure projects should involve tourist officers and completion of such projects should be issued certificate by the tourist instead of engineering wing alone releasing bills without the knowledge of tourist officers.”
The group stated that the government has clearly issued an order that tourist officers should identify spots that are feasible for construction of tourist facilities.
‘The engineering wing is the backbone of the Tourism department and is manned by engineers deputed to the department from the PWD normally for a period of three years to give technical guidance and to oversee developmental work of the construction,’ the press release stated.
However, the press release stated, ‘with political favour’ most engineers stay for over decades which has proved counterproductive for the department’s growth.
“NPRAAF is constrained to appeal to all political parties in the state to discontinue the habit of converting government property into private property when they are in power and also to public to stop illegal occupation of govt. property because if the trend continues we will be left with little or no public property in due course of time as a common wealth,” the organisation stated.