The Haryana government is aggressively seeking to promote the state as a destination for both religious and historical tourism, but its quaintly named motels and resorts are crumbling under huge losses. The state tourism corporation’s 43 motel-resorts could have been a ready-made backbone of the government’s new pitch of Haryana as the cradle of the Indus Valley and Vedic civilizations, but they are now little more than shady watering holes, or at best, cheap or free accommodation for touring government functionaries and their families.
Watch what else is making news:
Information obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) by The Indian Express reveals that most of these motels, named after birds of the region, are loss-making ventures, bleeding the state exchequer by Rs 1.57 lakh each day for the 27 months to which the information pertains.
According to details for the period between April 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016, 29 of these tourist complexes together incurred losses of Rs 12.71 crore during this period.
The 29 complexes earned a combined revenue of Rs 40.28 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 45.10 crore in 2015-16. The biggest money spinner is the sale of liquor, earning the complex Rs 31.76 crore. However, the staff salary bill alone in the same period was Rs 77 crore.
Senior officials who have helmed the tourism department give an interesting reason for the poor performance of these motels: the new network of flyovers and bypasses that ironically make tourism in Haryana easier.
The other reasons officials cite are the “hospitality” extended to top government functionaries and their kin, and a “sarkari” approach.
A senior IAS officer who has served as the Managing Director of Haryana Tourism, said: “When I joined, I found out we had suffered losses in crores. The realignment of the road network, which is the construction of flyovers and bypasses across the state, abolished the basic concept of Haryana tourism resorts that were constructed right on the highways. With the flyovers, one just bypasses resorts in the lanes below. One doesn’t even get to know of any such resort.”
Another senior official of the Haryana Tourism said a professional approach was needed to run these motel-resorts. “There is no ‘ hire and fire’ policy here. People know they would be getting their salaries even if the complexes are ill-maintained or curtains are stinking,” said the official.
In recent years, there has been no serious attempt at promoting these tourist complexes, even though money is being lavished on their upkeep, making them high-maintenance NPAs.
Expenditure details show that Rs 1.20 lakh was spent every day under the horticulture head at these complexes during this period by the officials for the maintenance of the gardens. The total expenditure for 27 months was Rs 9.88 crore.
On crockery replacement in the same time period, a total of Rs 41.79 lakh was spent.
The government also spent Rs 6.03 crore on infrastructure and Rs 3.79 crore on petty repairs during the same period.
Travelling, telephone and uniform expenses amounted to Rs 1.04 crore while Rs 1.03 crore was spent on laundry and dry cleaning. The officials have already spent Rs 11 lakh on laundry and dry cleaning from April to June this year. Bulbs worth Rs 18.18 lakh were replaced during this period.
According to the RTI records analysed by The Indian Express, Barbet at Sohna in Gurgaon district, Saras at Damdama lake in Gurgaon, Sandpiper at Rewari, Dabchick at Palwal, Parakeet in Pipli, Badhal Lake in Faridabad, Papiha in Fatehbad, Anjan Yatrika in Pehowa, Baya in Bhiwani, Blue Bird in Hisar and Raj Hans in Faridabad were few among those that are running in losses.
Haryana tourism officials concede these motels are running into huge losses, but say they are working towards its revival.
“We are working on a number of initiatives. We are coming up with hot air ballooning at the camping sites. Also, food festivals were never held in Haryana tourism hotels. We are planning it in four of our hotels soon,” said Managing Director of the Haryana Tourism Sameer Pal Srow.
“We have even planned an all-women’s car rally that would be held soon in the Pinjore area with Haryana tourism as its organisers.”