A Scam called Tourism/KTVG

venkatappaartgallery

This post carries on some of the research found on this blog investigating into the conditions under which public tourist spaces are being handed over to private capital/unelected government in the name of development in Karnataka.

V Ravichander, co-chair of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group, has consistently stated in press reports that it was the Government of Karnataka who approached private capital to adopt these tourist spaces. Here’s a quote from March 28th 2016,

 “KTVG played no role in suggesting the adoption of VAG. The adoption programme under corporate social responsibility (CSR) was conceived by the Karanataka government’s tourism ministry. KTVG welcomed it once it became the official policy of the government, and approached corporates and foundations to let them know about the adoption programme. The reality is that there aren’t donors queuing up showing interest; the properties adopted had only one suitor though over 100 firms were approached.” Firstpost

In another article on Citizen Matters, he states,

“One endorses the GoK cabinet decision to do this and personally (as a co-author of the report) it’s a regret that we at KTVG did not think of the adoption under CSR! Once the State cabinet had taken the decision to adopt destinations and issued the Govt Order, the Tourism Minister reached out to Corporates / Philanthropic Institutions to come forward to adopt places under this program. Some of us also spread the word about the GoK adoption program which resulted in the few adoption MoUs (eg. Belur Halebid by Coffee Day; Government Arts Museum by Jindal Foundation including VAG by Tasveer Foundation).”
Here’s the deal, some facts don’t add up.

Karnataka Tourism Vision Group was formed via a government order[1] in September 2013. They met over seven sessions between October 2013 and December 2013[2]. In January 2014, KTVG released its recommendations geared towards what they call making Karnataka a tourist destination.

Assertion 1: Adoption was the Government of Karnataka’s idea. KTVG had nothing to do with it

Facts: The Government order for Adoption is dated on 16th September 2014. On 9th September 2014 a letter was written by V.Ravichander to the Department of Tourism inviting the Tourism Minister for a meeting with Karnataka Tourism Vision Group. The subject says ‘K.T.V.G MEETING SAT SEP’

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 4.24.46 PM

Questions:

  1. Why was KTVG, whose work ended in 2014 January, after the recommendations were handed over to the Government of Karnataka meeting on a Saturday in September 2014, the very month the adoption order came into being?
  2. Which Saturday was this? 13th Sep, 20th Sep or 27th Sep? Was the adoption order passed after the KTVG meeting?

Assertion 2: Only 1 “suitor” for a “100 firms” approached.

Facts: There is no documentation available to prove that the Department of Tourism either issued a call out, a public one, or a tender, or a press release even? What instead is actually available is the dates on which members of KTVG wrote to the Tourism Minister R V Deshpande expressing their burning desire to adopt certain tourist destinations.

In a letter dated 23/10/2014 Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, member of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group, expresses her interest in adopting Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 12.49.42 AM

In a letter dated 27/10/2014 Abhishek Poddar, member of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group and Director of Tasveer Foundation taking over Venkatappa Art Gallery, writes to the Tourism Minister.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 12.52.39 AM

In a letter dated 28/11/2014 Vineet Verma, BCIC (member of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group) expresses desire to ‘support’ Lalbagh.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 2.07.58 AM

Here’s the table to make it easier:

27/10/2014EOI from Abhishek Poddar reg Tourism Policy and involvement of Corporates

OCT 2013 KTVG Formed, met over 7 sessions
DEC 2013 KTVG Meetings ended.
JAN 2014 Recommendations of KTVG released
09/09/2014 Letter from V.Ravichander (meeting of KTVG)
16/09/2014 Govt circular on Adoption (Order No TD98 TTT 2014 Dated 16.09.14)
23/10/2014 EOI from Kiran Mazumdar Shaw for Visvesvaraya Museum
27/10/2014 EOI from Abhishek Poddar reg Tourism Policy and involvement of Corporates
02/12/2014 EOI from BCIC for adoption of Lalbagh

So this leads me to the following important question: Was this adoption program ever meant for anyone else except the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group? There are absolutely no other letters, in the public archive of the Department of Tourism, by anyone not a member of KTVG, expressing any interest. Nor there is no directive by the Government asking that this adoption program be made public.This research is not meant to implicitly support the other option we have before us which is VAG Forum. Articles in the press point to the possibilities of a Trust and that is also privatisation of a public space. Their letter to the Minister of Tourism, R V Deshpande, asking for programming control, stands ideologically against what it means to ask that a public space be a public space. This programming control, this trust, does not have my support.

Endnotes:

[1] Order TD / 237 / PraVaE / 2013 dated September 04, 2013

[2] Karnataka Tourism Vision Group (KTVG) Recommendations to the GoK: Jan 2014

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