In Karnataka, Yatri Nivas buildings have turned into schools and marriage halls

In Karnataka, Yatri Nivas buildings have turned into schools and marriage halls

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-04-09 09:54 Bengaluru: It was way back in 2005 that The Union Government launched its ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ campaign to make tourists feel more welcome and safe in India. But it has been only lip service. While urging ordinary citizens to behave more pleasantly towards tourists, the governments have done really little. Leave alone the safety of tourists, very little has been done by the government about their accommodation. For instance, the Karnataka government-owned YatriNivas or dormitories – meant for tourists – across the state, are either under lock and key, or have been converted into schools, hostels, and worse, marriage halls. According to CAG report, most of the Yatri Nivas buildings built recently have been rendered useless. The report found that a project to build 131 Yatri nivasguest houses in 10 districts at a cost of Rs 87.48 crore was taken up in 2009-14. But only 77 guest houses were built at Rs 51.63 crore. What is worse, their purpose of constructing them has not been met. Twenty-one of these buildings have been handed over to temple trusts and committees of private persons. Officials from Tourism Department told CAG in December 2015 that due to shortage of staff, they have not been able to maintain them. They also said they found nothing wrong in utilising these buildings for other purposes. But it has been found that as many as 56 guest houses built at a cost of Rs 51.63 crore are lying useless as – despite government orders – they have not been handed over to temple trusts yet. Similar is the case with 66 other guest houses constructed at a cost of Rs 33.81 crore. The tourism department authorities are yet to identify persons to manage these buildings. In July 2014, the State government issued instructions to the tourism department to hand over the Yatri Nivas buildings to the Temple/Mutt authorities on lease basis at a nominal rent of 1,000 a year. But at least 17 guest houses built at a cost of Rs 5.15 crore are being used as schools, hostels and marriage halls. The CAG report said that in Hospet, nine out of 11 Yatri Nivas buildings were found to be under lock and key or converted into a marriage hall. ‘ In Davangere, four guest houses constructed in 2011 were ready to be handed over to religious shrines. But even after repeated pleas, there were no takers, tourism department authorities said.