The 16 women govindas who participated in a Maharashtra tourism board’s programme in the United States last year and were asked to pay the airfare can now heave a sigh of relief.
Office bearers of the Dahihandi Utsav Samanvay Samiti (DUSS), which facilitated their tour, recently met the chief minister who has promised that the gover nment would bear the cost.
The girls, all of them between 17 and 23 years of age, were handpicked by the Samiti for a promotional event at the Times Square in New York from September 20-24, 2014, organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
According to a written undertaking by the Samiti, the state-run department would pay for the lodging, food and stay, if the girls committed to pay the air tickets back and fro.
HT had reported how, earlier this month, t he MTDC shot letters to all girls asking to pay Rs 65,867 each, threatening le g al action if they didn’t. This gave a shock to the women govindas who told HT they couldn’t afford to pay the money and that they had got a verbal assurance form the Samiti that the cost would be taken care of. The Samiti, on the other hand, said that verbal assurances were given by the MTDC that they would find sponsors to bear the cost.
Bala Padelkar, DUSS presi dent, said, “We met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis recently with our plea that the Samiti could not bear the Rs 9.88 lakh asked by the MTDC towards airfare of the girls and a couple of team coordinators. He agreed that the state would fund the airfare. The papers are in process.”
Parag Jain, managing director, MTDC, said they were waiting for an official letter from the CM office, but were relieved at the assurance.
Geeta Zagade, who had accompanied the team to the US, said the girls were very relieved, adding that it was a pity that the all- girls team couldn’t get sponsors even as an all-men team that went for a similar event to the US in 2013 had attracted enough sponsorship. Against the Rs14 lakh that the girls’ team had needed, the Samiti could raise only Rs4.25 lakh for the US event.