Puri, Oct 18 (UNI) Tourists in Puri from now will have to pay tax for the beach development fund depending on the type of the hotels they reside.
As per the instruction of the newly formed beach development committee headed by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mahapatra hoteliers along the beach line would collect money from the visitors on behalf of the committee.
The hotel owners were asked to collect Rs.20 from every customer on bookings in big and medium hotels and Rs10 for the boarding in small hotels.
The committee had provided receipt books to hotels and the local tourist officer was directed to collect funds from them on a monthly basis.
Each of the vendor operating on the beach will also have to pay a token Rs.1 per day.
The Committee had chalked out several beach development and beautification works like planting of trees, illumination and waste management with the funds.
Civic body executive officer M D Barik, District Magistrate R R Pattnaik,Tourist Officer S K Pattnaik and the representatives of the hotel association were taken as member in the Committee. l The decision of the committee however,evoked strong protest from beach protection council president Jagannath Bastia and Nagarik adhikar surakshya parishad.
In a press release here Mr.Bastia has challenged the formation of the new committee stating that it was an illegal body. A beach development committee was legally formed as per the direction of the state government in 1997 and was functioning since then with the district magistrate as its chairperson.
The members in this new committee were statutory members of the existing body which had already taken several development measures.
Funds collected earlier from the hotels was with the committee and it had taken a number of beach development programmes, Mr.Basta said.
He alleged that the new committee's decision to collect funds from scores of vendors who were recently evicted from the beach by the direction of the state high court was a violation of the High court order as it was an indirect attempt to legalise their encroachments on the beach.
Mr.Basta said when the district is all set to receive crores of rupees under the national urban renewal mission there was no need to collect funds from tourists.
Moreover every tourist and the visitor on their arrival to this pilgrim city,had been paying pilgrim tax and the lodging house fund committee collecting huge money to be used for several development projects.
He said the new tax fixed by the Committee would discourage the visitors adding that the decision to raise plantations along the sandy beach by using mortar and manure would destroy the beauty of the beach.