559 tourist mitras to be deployed in Karnataka, more spots to be covered

While officials in the tourism department assert that the TMs are located at many tourism sites, the reality on ground is different. They are found only in limited places and from 10 am to 5 pm. Further, the location where TMs stand is far from the actual tourist spot.
Image used for representative purpose only
Image used for representative purpose onlyExpress photo

BENGALURU: In wake of the increasing incidents of tourists being attacked, accidents or deaths of tourists or they being booked for entering restricted areas and increasing footfall, the tourism department has recruited 559 Tourist Mitras (TMs).

The process of roping in home guards as TMs started in 2015 with 175. By the end of the 2016- 17, the department deployed 500. Of which many left the job or shifted to another location and the existing post continued to remain vacant.

While officials in the tourism department assert that the TMs are located at many tourism sites, the reality on ground is different. They are found only in limited places and from 10 am to 5 pm. Further, the location where TMs stand is far from the actual tourist spot.

Citing an example, an expert explained, TMs are not found enroute to Yana Caves or Abhay Falls. This is because the they are located only in areas listed by tourism department. There is a lack of coordination between tourism, forest and revenue departments.

“When a tourist is exploring a destination, he/she is not concerned of which department the location falls In. It is the location. The purpose of TMs was to ensure tourist security at all destinations. So where ever there is tourist footfall, there should be TMs and they should be visible to the tourists,” said the expert.

Officials in the tourism department admitted that there has been a slack and said that this is now being highlighted in the upcoming tourism policy. A senior official from the tourism department told The New Indian Express that discussions are being held with the District Administrations in the posting of the TMs to as many tourist destinations as possible.

“This year we have inducted 559 from the 900 people who were trained by the Home Guards department. With these, we will not just fill the gaps at the existing tourist destinations which the earlier recruits had left vacant, but we will also deploy them in new destinations. The TMs act as police, but do not have the powers of the police. Their role is to control crowds and help in area management. There is a need to recruit more, but there are financial constraints, so this is being listed as a priority in the new tourism policy,” the official said.

“We are also preparing a list of the new places and lesser-known places which tourists are now exploring, especially waterfalls, trek routes, bike riding routes and beaches where TMs are needed. With the help of Archaeological Survey of India, a list of historic monuments is also being prepared where TMs need to be posted, which are they are not covering."

"These areas have not just become tourism sites, but spaces for illegal activities. TMs are more so needed to manage footfall at destinations. The carrying capacity reports of the forest department will also be used for this. Panchayats will also be roped in for identifying locations and deploying TMs,” the official added.

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