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Irrigation dam guest houses to be thrown open for tourists

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
By A Special Correspondent

If all goes well, tourists can now book guest houses, inspection bungalows, observation posts and residential accommodations at irrigation dam sites. The state cabinet at its weekly meeting yesterday approved the proposal to develop these properties owned by the Irrigation department as tourist spots. The properties owned by the Water Resources ministry will be developed through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, this was stated by Minister for Water Resources and Command Area Development Girish Mahajan in a statement issued here yesterday.

The proposal intends to throw open the 138 major, 255 medium and 2,862 small irrigation dams for tourists. Many of the guest houses, inspection bungalows, observation posts and residential accommodations at Irrigation dam sites are located at picturesque locations in the Sahyadri and Satpuda hill ranges. The move will provide employment opportunities to project affected and locals. Mahajan stated that the reason behind developing these properties was because many of them are in disuse due to lack of repairs and maintenance and lack of manpower to maintain them. The move would also provide a source of income to the Irrigation Development Department.

However, the proposal is bound to raise hackles in the environmentalist lobby. Most of these properties are located in the catchment area of irrigation dams and most untouched. If the proposal goes ahead it will mean influx of tourists raising issues of garbage and waste management. Sources in the department however dismissed the concerns arguing that the restrictions on movement of tourists beyond certain area will continue to remain in force.

Following the cabinet approval the Irrigation department will frame policy guidelines. As per the proposal, the tenure of the agreement with private partners will be between 10 to 30 years and once the term of the agreement expires it will not be given any further extension.

The developer will not be able to sublet or sub-lease the properties to any other entity and neither will he be allowed to incorporate new shareholders by selling off share capital. The government will not issue any no objection certificate to the owner to raise loans or mortgage these properties. These properties will be developed in consultation with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

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