KONARK:Members of Konark Surakhya Samiti on Friday closed down the ticket counter at the World Heritage monument - Sun temple at Konark - protesting the hike in entry fees by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ASI had implemented the entry fee hike at its protected monuments in Odisha from April 1 this year.
Tourists were unable to enter the Sun temple. The entry fee at Sun temple has been increased from Rs 10 per head to Rs 30 for Indian nationals and tourists from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries. For tourists from other countries, the entry price has been increased from Rs 250 to Rs 500.
Opposing the hike, members of Konark Surakhya Samiti locked the ticket counter at the temple and staged a demonstration alleging that though the monument has been generating a lot of revenue, its conservation has been slow and there are no amenities for visitors inside.
Samiti president Sarat Jayasingh said the Sun temple is the highest revenue earning monument and the only World Heritage monument in the State. But, neither the ASI nor the State Government has been serious about its conservation.
Money sanctioned by the Centre for its development is being embezzled by authorities concerned, he alleged.
After the entry fee hike, the ASI has also been offering high value tickets priced at Rs 750 and Rs 300 per head respectively. Visitors purchasing the high value tickets are being provided free water bottle, Wi-Fi connectivity, mementos and CDs with pictures and films of monuments.
Besides, there is a separate queue for people purchasing tickets worth Rs 750, Rs 500, Rs 300 and Rs 200 for easy entry into the monument.
Last month, the Samiti members had submitted memoranda to Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma, Puri Collector and Superintending Engineer of ASI, Bhubaneswar Circle, AK Patel over the issue.