The famous waterfalls of Jharkhand – Hundru, Jonha, Lodh, Dassam, Sita, Panchghag and Hirni – are brimming with visitors ahead of the festive season. The waterfalls famous for their scenic natural beauty and rolling down of water from high altitude have turned major attraction for tourists, who are coming from different parts of the state as well as other parts of the country, mostly West Bengal, a tourism official said.
A Kolkata-based tourist Tarak Nath Sahu, who visited Jonha falls on Saturday, told PTI, “I have never seen such a beautiful place in my life. The scenic beauty, hills and huge quantity of water falling from a height of about 150 feet is magical. If there was a staying facility here, it would have one of the best places in the world.”
Located around 40 km from the capital Ranchi, Jonha has been a place of tourist attraction owing to its natural beauty. Visitors enjoy the mesmerizing waterfall by stepping down around 700 stairs.
Not only Jonha, but other falls in and around Ranchi are also witnessing a huge influx of visitors.
On an average 10,000 tourists from different parts of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar are visiting seven falls — Hundru, Jonha, Lodh, Dassam, Sita, Panchghag and Hirni — per day, Jharkhand Pryatan Suraksha Samiti (JPSS) president Rajkishore Prasad told PTI.
JPSS, a wing of the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC), manages and maintains the major waterfalls of Jharkhand. As many as 110 ‘Prayatak Mitra’ (Tourist’s Friend) are working for JPSS in the water bodies.
The inflow of visitors would continue till February next year, he said.
Sanjay Kumar, an associate professor (electronics) of Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra, told PTI, “Jharkhand has immense potential in the tourism sector. The government can earn huge revenue from tourism and generate employment if the tourism sites were promoted properly.”
Kumar, who visited Jonha falls with his wife Babita Agarwal on Saturday, said, “I have visited many European countries such as Spain and Denmark. They don’t have such big things. The natural beauty which Jharkhand has I have rarely seen in any other country. Here, government needs to work with a plan and vision and promote its places.”
Even though tourist inflow has increased in Jharkhand since its inception in November 2000, the number of visitors is still poor and mostly restricted to religious places, according to experts.
In 2000, when Jharkhand came into being, just 4.53 lakh tourists, including 3,111 foreigners, visited the state. Currently, the number would be around 3.60 crore annually, a tourism official said.
However, the tourists, who visit the places of natural beauty, complain about the lack of toilets, proper roads, staying and signage facilities.
A ‘Prayatak Mitra’, Harendra Kumar said, “There are six toilets in Jonha Falls but only two are functioning. A changing room had also been built but it is currently lying abandoned.”
JTDC general manager Alok Prasad told PTI, “Facilities are added to the place of tourist interest from time to time. We will soon install water ATMs in all tourist places in a bid to provide them with purified water.”
He said toilet and other facilities are being extended. “We received complaints that some of the toilets are closed in Jonha. We have asked the tourism workers to open them and operate them properly so that tourists do not face any trouble,” he said.
Prasad said a staying facility had been developed in Hundru fall but it hardly found any tourists.
In a bid to attract tourists to Jharkhand, several promotional programmes are organized in regular intervals, he said. “Netarhat Monsoon Retreat Festival and Patratu Lake Festival are lined up for this year. Some functions are also scheduled in Waterfall from January 1 to 15 next year,” he said.
‘Prayatak Mitras’, however, claimed that they play a key role in providing services to the tourists but their demands including accidental insurance coverage, provident fund benefits and jobs on compassionate grounds are still unheard of.
“The Prayatak Mitras put their lives at risk in case of any drowning incident in the falls. But, we do not have any insurance coverage from the government’s side. In the past three years, as many as 12 Prayatak Mitras died in the course of rescuing visitors but they were given nothing,” Prasad said.
He said that the JTDC has been earning around ₹30,000 per day from the falls but there is no PF benefit for the ‘Prayatak Mitras’. “They are surviving on meagre remuneration of around ₹9,000. They work for 30 days but get the payment for 26 days,” he said.
On the ‘Prayatak Mitra’ issue, a senior tourism official termed it a policy decision matter.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.