The cash-strapped state government may implement the Mahabaleshwar model at all tourists spots, under which visitors will be charged entry fees and this money will be used for the welfare and development of these areas, education minister Vinod Tawde announced in the Legislative Council on Friday.
The minister elaborated that the revenue generated from the entry fees will be used mainly to improve the safety measures in these areas. Replying to a calling attention motion in the Council following the death of 14 students who drowned at Murud beach earlier this year, Tawde said, “When we go to Mahabaleshwar or Matheran, we have to pay entry fees that the local authorities use for the welfare of the area. We are therefore considering the introduction of entry fees at all tourists spots in the state and the revenue generated from this can be used to improve the safety measures.”
Many members had raised concerns over poor safety measures at popular beaches in the state. Sanjay Dutt from the Congress said “According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, Maharashtra has the highest number of deaths owing to drowning in India, with as many as 4,822 fatalities in 2014. We must take necessary measures.”
The members demanded facilities such as watchtowers, life guards and signages on the beaches to check the increase in the number of drowning incidents.
In February , 14 students of Pune’s Inamdar College had drowned in the sea near Murud beach in Raigad.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena’s Neelam Gorhe criticised the government for failing to get information from schools about the picnics they arrange.
“According to rules, schools must take permission from the education department before organising picnics. However, no school has found to have been following the rule. The government must take strict action,” she said.
Tawde accepted Gorhe’s contention and told the Council that the government will ask schools to finalise their picnic plans only after holding discussions at the parent-teacher association meetings.