In a PIL, Justice Kirubakaran had said that the tourist town was decked up in the run-up to the Modi-Xi summit but after it got over, the place was back to its state of being extremely dirty.

Mamallapuram panchayat does not have enough funds TN govt informs Madras HC
news Court Friday, January 03, 2020 - 08:08

The Tamil Nadu government has informed the Madras High Court that the Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) town panchayat does not have enough funds to undertake various municipal works in the tourist spot and the major revenue was being collected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court on its own took up as a Public Interest Litigation, a letter sent by Justice N Kirubakaran on the preservation and maintenance of monuments in the town after it was chosen for the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in October last year.

Justice Kirubakaran had said in his letter that the tourist town was cleaned and decked up in the run-up to the summit but after it got over, the place was back to its state of being extremely dirty and unpleasant.

When the PIL came up for hearing before the division Bench, comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and R Suresh Kumar, three status reports were filed by the Kancheepuram Collector, the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and the administrative officer of the Director General of Police.

Tamil Nadu Advocate General Vijay Narayan said the town panchayat was facing shortage of funds for various municipal works.

He said the ASI was collecting major revenue from tourists at the rate of Rs 40 per Indian and Rs 600 per foreigner.

If the ASI could release some funds to the town panchayat, the latter would be in a better position to undertake such maintenance works in the tourist town, he said.

The DGP, in his report, said a separate wing, comprising a sub-inspector and personnel of four other ranks, well-versed in English, had been formed and was functioning at the town police station exclusively to deal with complaints from foreigners.

Besides, policemen well-versed in English have been posted at that station to guide foreigners properly and effectively deal with their complaints, he said.

The counter-affidavit by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department submitted that ASI had issued guidelines as per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act.

The guidelines said areas around the protected historical monuments have been classified as a protected monument, protected areas, prohibited areas and regulated areas.

Applications seeking permission for repair and renovation in the prohibited areas and regulated areas should be made before the competent authority, the principal secretary and commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu, it said.

The ASI, Chennai circle, has declared wards 8, 9 12 and 13 of Mahabalipuram as monumental sites and any construction or renovation was subject to the scrutiny of the competent authority, the counter said.

An average of 2,000 tourists on weekdays and 10,000 during weekends and holidays and 50,000 throng Mamallapuram during special holidays and festival days, it said.

Accepting that hawkers on roads and path to the beach had resurfaced even after mass drive in coordination with revenue and police officials, the counter said the town has a strong patronage of tourists.

The bench, after hearing the AG and ASG, directed the state government to give a list of recognised NGOs, recognised guides working at the tourist places and other recognised volunteers who can undertake the peer review system to maintain cleanliness and upkeep of the monuments and other places in Mahabalipuram.

It then posted the matter for further hearing to January 22.

The judges also directed the ASG to file the statistics on revenue received from tourists during the last three years and the funding ASI may be willing to provide for maintenance and upkeep of the tourist places of Mahabalipuram by the town panchayat.  

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