Where the stones still weep: Heritage down the drain as tourism dept ruins Hampi

Where the stones still weep: Heritage down the drain as tourism dept ruins Hampi

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-03-30 09:58 Bengaluru: Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagar rulers, is often referred to as Haalu Hampi (Hampi in ruins) since very little of the great capital’s legendary monuments stood intact  after the Battle of Talikote at Rakkasa Tangadi, where Vijayanagar rulers suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of Deccan Sultanate rulers.According to various historical accounts, the victorious Sultanate rulers pillaged the capital for several days, leaving the capital in ruins. Hence the tag, Haalu Hampi.That’s ancient history. But the passage of time hasn’t made Hampi shed its tag. This great historical site, a major crowd-puller, is still in a mess.A CAG report tabled in state assembly concerning Hampi shows that majority of projects undertaken by the state government at Hampi - after it received the World Heritage Site tag – haven’t had the desired impact even though huge sums of money have been spent.Here’s an example. To reduce the hazardous impact on monuments at the World Heritage Site, movement of tourist vehicles were banned in the 1.3 km stretch between Gejjala Mantap and Vijaya Vittala Temple complex at Hampi.Twenty battery-operated vehicles were procured (2011) at a cost of Rs2.01 crore to ferry tourists in that stretch. The audit (June 2015) showed that 17 of these battery operated vehicles were under repairs and no action was taken to get the vehicles repaired. The failure resulted in defeating the very objective of protecting the monuments as the movement of regular motor vehicles had to be allowed in the above stretch on account of non-availability of battery operated vehicles.That’s not all. At Hampi heritage spots involving nine tourist sites spread over different locations, there were no facilities for drinking water at three sites, toilet facilities were not available at four spots, signage was not available at two spots, and information kiosks were not available at eight spots, says the report.  The report also highlights the results of its own findings.According to the report, 25 licensed tourist guides and 42 tourists at Hampi were interviewed over the available facilities at Hampi. All 25 guides said that basic facilities such as drinking water, toilets, restaurants and maintenance were lacking. The interviewed guides also expressed their concern over the menace of unlicensed tourist guides. Forty-two tourists said they were unhappy with the service of the guides. Other major observations of CAG against the state tourism department are:* Though department statistics showed an increase in domestic tourist arrivals, the figures lacked credibility as they were not compiled as per the method prescribed by Government of India. * Though the PPP model was adopted to boost tourism, investments from the private sector suffered setback as entrepreneurs backed out from 35 projects involving Rs21,673.67 crore of investments (76.5 per cent) out of the total approved investments of Rs27,550 crore from 512 projects.* The expected employment generation was overestimated as employment generation created was 0.06 lakh (below one per cent) as against targeted potential employment generation of 29 to 41 lakh. Thus the objective of making tourism the principal and largest economic activity could not be achieved.* Projects assisted by Government of India were not completed within the stipulated period which resulted in loss of central assistance of Rs17.95 crore in seven cases.*Seventy-seven Yatrinivas/dormitories constructed for the benefit of tourists at a cost of Rs 51.63 crore were not put to use due to delay in identifying parties to manage it.*Eco- and adventure tourism, sound and light show and coastal tourism projects were not completed as planned or several components were shelved on account of various reasons which were indicative of weak appraisal of projects.