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
This is in response to an article that appeared in Deccan Herald which covered the fact that three sites slated to aspire to heritage status couldn’t do so because of bureaucratic incompetence.
Some more information needs to be added to this article to understand what we might be asking for:
Some of the sites mentioned in this article are up for grabs by private parties which the Tourism department of Karnataka is doing in collusion with a para-governance body called Karnataka Tourism Vision Group.
MoUs have been drawn up for instance with Belur Halebid. Coffee day enterprises is set to take it over.
Bidar and Srirangapatna have been identified as up for grabs in the Government circular TD98 TTT2014
Getting these places on to the world heritage list only means that the value of it goes up – the actual sites, the land surrounding it etc which is reaped not by the local community as the UNESCO body intends it for but for private businesses who have managed through KTVG and the Tourism Department to pass favourable laws that would make opening and profiting from businesses here a cakewalk.
C G Betsurmath is the person who signed on the MoU with Tasveer Foundation giving away control of a public art space – Venkatappa Art Gallery – to a private party. This MoU has run afoul of Bengaluru’s artists who have been protesting it for the past few months.
The Tourism department has not been open about the process of handing over public spaces to private parties even refusing to answer RTIs. CG Betsurmath asking for exemption from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act only points to the opaque way in which the department of Museums and Archaeology has been operating. This means that no questions can be asked about who the tenders are given to continuing what they have been doing with KTVG. This has to be strongly resisted.
DR Gopal was the person in charge of this whose appointment was withdrawn a week after he joined work. He contested the loss of his post but did not win the case. When he was in such a position the blame needs to lie on the recruitment procedures rather than on Gopal who would have been unable to carry out his responsibilities while simultaneously fighting the government.
Jyoti Hosagrahar who is the UNESCO Chair at Srishti was/is a member of the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group. The government seems to have appointed this group as the ‘go to’ people for everything without following due process.
It is important before we ask for such a recognition that we pause to consider who benefits especially in the wake of what happened at Hampi. For more info on Hampi and evictions see a report by Equations here.
This blog post continues the work I have been doing around researching on the handing over of Venkatappa Art Gallery to Tasveer Foundation. Looking through the annual reports of the three financial years of Museums and Archaeology, these are some of the findings: