Keonjhar: Six waterfalls of various sizes in this district have been given the status of ‘Tourist Destinations’. If the remaining ones get the same tag from the Odisha Tourism Department, the district will definitely attract a huge number of tourists as it will turn into the ‘place having the most number of waterfalls’, according to some senior citizens of the district.
The citizens feel that if such a tag is granted it will not only attract tourists, but will increase the revenue flow. They said that if the number of visitors increases it will also open the doors for the tribals to earn more and improve their standard of living.
The waterfalls in this district are surrounded by lush greenery making each area a scene to behold. One can spend hours at a stretch just allowing the beauty of the greenery and the waterfall to completely encompass you.
The waterfalls which have been granted ‘Tourist Destination’ spot status are Sana Ghagara, Bada Ghagara, Khandadhar, Gundichaghagi, Murga and Handibhanga. However, the remainder – Bhimkund, Kaijoda, Tenteinali, Kainjhar, Giridibandh, Mahadevmundi and Putugharghagi do not have that tag even though they are equally beautiful scenic spots.
They also attract visitors on a continuous basis as their popularity has spread through word of mouth. Sources said that footfalls to all the waterfalls in this district are rising on an annual basis.
“Had these places been given ‘Tourist Destination’ status and developed, the real picture would have definitely been different,” some local residents alleged. Resentment is also brewing among people as the state government is not giving the same amount of importance to tourism as it does to mining.
“The tourist spots are neglected. It is time for the government to tap the potentiality of these tourist spots. The development of these areas would have a good effect on the tribal people. They can improve their socio-economic condition,” observed environmentalist Pradeep Rout.
Sources said that chances for some of the waterfalls to get ‘Tourist Destination’ tag appear dim. This is because since its formation, May 10, 2017, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) has not convened a single meeting.
Notably, according to a notification (Notification number-8029/07-07-2013), a policy was formulated in 2016 for the development of tourism in this district. Thereafter the DTPC was formed.
Sadar MLA and Chief Whip of the Opposition in the Odisha Assembly, Mohan Charan Majhi expressed his concern over DTPC meetings not being convened. He said he would draw the attention of the government on the issues.
When contacted, Ramesh Chandra Nayak who is an officer in the DTPC said that steps are being taken to develop the remaining waterfalls as tourist spots. Decision has been taken to convene a DTPC meeting very soon.
Finally, some good sense prevailing.