The Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDCL) is pulling out all stops to make Assam ‘The Destination’ for tourists. The ATDCL along with the Assam Government has roped in Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra as the Brand Ambassador of Assam Tourism so that its tourism footfall is something to write home about.
On Thursday, too, the ATDCL was busy celebrating World Tourism Day 2018. But, the department “misses out” on small tourist spots which are equally important to attract tourists’ attention and prefers to “look the other way”. A case-in-point is the Dhubri-based ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ which was constructed by the ATDCL in 2011 to attract more and more tourists to visit Dhubri town. Sadly, the same “languishes” today.
The ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ was constructed right on the bank of the River Brahmaputra in front of the Dhubri dak bungalow – a much prime location. It is just adjacent to the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office in Dhubri. It was handed over to the lessee Hari Sankar Singh on November 25, 2011.
Sunil Dutta, the then DC of Dhubri, inaugurated the said cafeteria and in his inaugural speech he had stated that the ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ would “double the pleasure of tourists to enjoy the scenic beauty of Dhubri and watch the majestic Brahmaputra flowing while tickling their taste buds”.
The ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ was constructed by ATDCL under the scheme –‘Development of Netai Dhubuni Ghat’ – at an estimated cost of Rs 73, 000, 00/- (Rupees Seventy Three lakhs) and was handed over on lease for three years in 2011. The shocking part is that the structure is now in a dilapidated condition with walls and roofs completely damaged all due to “negligence on the part of the authorities concerned”. On the other hand, the structure is also facing erosion threat from the River Brahmaputra.
Hari Sankar Singh, lessee of the ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ told Northeast Now, “I was maintaining the structure, the day to day expenses as well as paying the staff from a shoestring budget allotted to me by the authorities. Things were becoming very difficult for me to manage as the expenses overshot the budget. Due to poor maintenance, footfalls were poor and in 2013, after I got two years extension till 2015, a major part of the structure I repaired spending my own money.”
Singh said that despite repeated pleas to the ATDCL authorities to hike the allotted money and decrease the rent amount so that the structure could be refurbished, “everything fell on deaf ears and today the ‘Cafeteria-cum-Watch Tower’ lies almost in shambles.”
The DC of Dhubri said that the district administration was in talks with the ATDCL authorities to “totally spruce up the said structure and very soon people would once again get to enjoy a panaromic view of Dhubri town from the watch tower”.