Probe ordered into tourism schemes that remain on paper despite spending crores

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala tourism department has decided to take stringent action against officials for delaying tourism schemes for years together on flimsy reasons. A special investigation team will be constituted soon to bring out the frauds that have taken place in the name of tourism schemes in the state.

During the preliminary inquiry, the department came across many cases in which unfeasible schemes were promoted without conducting any proper study and administrative sanction was obtained for such schemes.

In the preliminary assessment it has been found that the tourism department has over 100 such schemes which despite getting administrative sanction 10 years ago, continue to remain incomplete.

The probe will be conducted into schemes which were presented in the ministerial working groups and administrative sanction for crores of rupees was obtained, only to be put on hold or abandoned completely.

Many schemes were abandoned after releasing advance money to the contract agencies. No action was taken to recover the advance money granted to the agencies for implementing schemes which never saw the light of the day.

The proposed probe is aimed at recovering this money.

DTPC under scanner

There will also be a probe into some special agencies which were permanently getting schemes for implementation. It has been seen that the District Tourism Promotion Councils (DTPC) without properly examining the feasibility were formulating schemes and obtaining permission of the working group.

There are DTPCs which, after signing contracts for all the approved schemes and after handing over advance money, only implement some of these. For instance, administrative sanction for crores of rupees was obtained for the development of Pookode lake in Wayanad district. But no development worth the name took place.

Other lost cases

Similarly administrative sanction was obtained for Rs 1.75 crore in 2013 for a tourism cultural centre at Kovalam but the construction was not carried out. However, 20 percent of the money was handed over to the agency.

Also, administrative sanction was obtained for Rs 1.25 crore for buying a boat at Periyar Tiger Reserve. But the boat was not purchased.

In 2013 administrative sanction was obtained for Chowara - Kovalam bridge. But the bridge was not constructed.

There are buildings which are lying unused even after inauguration in the absence of power connection. Since these buildings are not generating any income, the department is facing huge losses.

The tourism department has now decided to gather the details of all such schemes. Besides, the DTPC secretaries had been directed to complete the schemes which were lagging behind.

Officials said the proposed probe will be conducted against those people who have failed to complete the schemes even after being given adequate time.

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