Despite Centre's assistance, delay in implementing crucial tourism projects have snowballed into heavy monetary losses

To sort out some crucial issues of tourism development in the city, a special committee to facilitate tourism projects in Mumbai, headed by BMC Commissioner is expected to meet soon after Diwali. While it's too early to comment on the meet, the crucial time that has been lost in taking decisions has inevitably delayed the projects. Thanks to the sloppiness exhibited at administrative level, the State has lost over Rs 20 crore of Central government's assistance.

No takers for art? The State lost Rs 5 crore allocated by the union
tourism ministry for the development of arts and crafts village at a plot
near the Film City's entrance in Goregaon. representation pic

Sloppy approach
According to sources in State Tourism Department, the State lost Rs 5 crore allocated by the union tourism ministry for the development of arts and crafts village near Film City in Goregaon alone. A plot near the Film City's entrance was earmarked for it at a meeting that was chaired by the then Minister for Cultural Affairs, Ashok Chavan, in 2006. However, the Revenue department is yet to delimit the plot, this despite a reminder from Cultural Affairs Department in 2009, said a senior official from Mantralaya, requesting anonymity. What has delayed the decision is the administrative failure to resolve the ownership dispute of the plot, whether it belongs to the Film City, the Aarey Colony or the Revenue Department.

Non-cooperative BMC
Similarly, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to act upon the State's request of allocating a plot at Masaj village, located near Matoshree Club on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road for Shilp Gram project, sources informed.

As the BMC wanted the plot earmarked for the Shilp Gram project for its sports academy, the decision had been pending for the past few years. In the meantime, the then Minister of State for Tourism, Suresh Shetty, who is now Public Health Minister, was ready to handover Rs 7.5 crore to BMC for the purpose.

Since Shetty represents the area in the State assembly, he had asked the BMC to carry out the project on their terms and conditions, but to no avail, sources added.

Moreover, even the State was ready to accept terms and conditions set by the civic body. However, the later refused to cooperate.

Damage control
Now, to speed up tourism projects in Mumbai, including the Ship Gram, Mumbai Haatt, based on the lines of Delhi Haatt, and others, the State Tourism Department, now headed by Chhagan Bhujbal, recently appointed BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar as the head of the special committee. 

When contacted, Managing Director of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), Jagdish Patil, responsible for implementing the projects, said, "We have requested the BMC commissioner to call a meeting soon, to find an amicable solution to carry out the projects. Even State Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad is keen on Mumbai tourism projects."

When questioned about the monetary losses that the State suffered due to administrative lapses, Patil refused to comment.

The great loss

According to sources in Mantralaya, the State failed to utilise Rs 5 crore assistance by the Centre for development of a tribal village project at Bhandardara dam in Ahmadnagar. Despite a letter by the district collector, MTDC failed to secure the required piece of land

Similarly, Rs 3.5 crore was lost for non-availability of land at Toranmal hills in Nandurbar. Here, the Centre was willing to contribute for development of a resort for the benefit of tourist, sources added.