MUSSOORIE, July 3
The two-day long Sir George Everest day that is being organized by Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board after spending over Rs 30 Lakhs failed to attract tourists on the inaugural day. The inadequate publicity, mismanagement and the dilapidated condition of the road to the Sir George Everest house near Hathipaon and the rains lashing the hill town of Mussoorie all played their part in keeping the tourist away from the festivities here on Tuesday.
The festivities started with a mountain cycling competition that began early morning and was witnessed by few officials and employees of UTDB as tourists failed to reach the site due to appalling condition of the road right from Hathipaon to the Sir George Everest site where the event was being organised by pitching a tent by the event manager.
Later the event was officially inaugurated by MLA Mussoorie Ganesh Joshi and MD GMVN/Additional Secretary tourism Jyoti Neeraj Khairwal by lighting the ceremonial lamp. MLA Ganesh Joshi speaking on the occasion said that the government has decided to develop the Sir George Everest House premises as International Tourist destination. He assured the people that next time when they come again to the site it will be in developed and changed much to the liking of the people.
The MD GMVN and Additional secretary tourism Jyoti Neeraj Khairwal welcomed the people and said that Sir George Everest House and Observatory will be developed as international Tourist destination. She said that as the area was adjoining the Mussoorie wildlife sanctuary it was taking time to receive approvals. She said that a development project has been sent to ADB and she hoped that work will begin soon. An exhibition shedding light on the life of George Everest and British are period photo exhibition was also displayed by local Historian Gopal Bhardwaj on the occasion.
The winners of Mountain cycling race were also felicitated on the occasion. Naresh Badoni stood first, Nakul Sahdev stood second and Dilshai and Navin Shah stood third and fourth respectively.
However, the function failed to impress the local residents and tourist alike and many termed it as misuse of Public finds worth over Rs 40 Lakhs. The local residents were of the view that last year the tourism Minster has announced establishing of Museum at George Everest House and construction of a metalled road from Hathipaon to George Everest House but no action has been initiated even one year after his announcement showing the lackadaisical approach of the Tourism department officials. On the contrary the officials blamed the heavy rains which acted as damper in the function resulting in low number of tourists attending the show. Most of the Seats kept for tourist were empty till the filing of the report at the event site. The tourists lamented the fact that the condition of the observatory and the House where the Legendary Surveyor General Sir George Everest lived was also in pathetic condition telling the sordid tale of negligence. The residents said that the government was spending so much money on the event, but the local population was not aware of it even on the day of the event. Mussoorie Hotel Association President R.N. Mathur irked at the arrangements said that the governments make announcement of converting into international tourism destination but nothing materializes at grass root level and every proposal bites the dust in some files in corner of tourism office.
The residents said that the 228 Birth anniversary of the Surveyor General Sir George Everest turned into mere formality with only few tourism officials and some school students from Mussoorie perusing through the photo exhibition displayed by local Historian Gopal Bhardwaj. The rock band competition was also held on the occasion.
Environmentalists in the town were irked at the publicity Banners and Hoardings being nailed into the trees on the road leading to George Everest House thus damaging the trees.
The tourists while trying to reach the George Everest house on two wheelers slipped at several places due to the dilapidated condition of the road and vowed never to return to the area again.
When contacted MLA Mussoorie Ganesh Joshi said that the tourism department has made some effort and it should be commended for that. He consented that the tourists found it difficult to reach the area and all such discrepancies will be removed soon. He said that the suggestion of developing it as meditation and yoga retreat has been well taken and he will try to work towards it.
The Uttarakhand Hotel Association President Sandeep Sahni, Sanjay Agarwal and several senior BJP leaders namely Mussoorie BJP president Mohan Petwal were present on the occasion. The local BJP leaders were also unhappy with the arrangements and said that the officials were still working with congress mindset which needs to be stopped. The residents hope that on the second day the organizers will rectify their short comings and involve more people from the town.