Bhubaneswar: Visiting Sun Temple in Konark of Odisha, a UNESCO World Heritage site, will be a costly affair in near future as the government is planning to increase the entry fee for both domestic and foreign tourists.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has mooted a hike in the entry fee at popular tourist sites and discounts on cashless modes of payment, as per a proposed amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959.
According to the draft, Indians, those from the other SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) countries and BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) countries will now have to pay Rs 40 per head (Rs 30 currently) to visit the UNESCO World Heritage properties or category ‘A’ monuments.
These are Sun Temple in Odisha, the Taj group of monuments at Agra, the Agra Fort, the Fatehpur Sikri monuments at Fatehpur Sikri, the Humayuns Tomb and Qutub Minar in Delhi.
For payments through card or any other cashless mode of transaction, a discount of Rs 5 would be provided for the tourists, the draft added.
Those from the other countries would have to pay Rs 600 per head (Rs 500 currently) to enter these monuments, the draft said, adding that in case of digital transactions, the amount would be reduced by Rs 50.
For the category B monuments, the ASI has proposed an entry fee of Rs 25 (Rs 20 for cashless transactions) in the draft for Indians, those from the other SAARC countries and BIMSTEC countries.
These monuments include the Akbars Tomb at Sikandra, the Itimad-ul-Daulas Tomb at Rambagh, the group of monuments at Mehtab Bagh in Agra, Delhis Jantar Mantar, Khan-i-Khana, Purana Qila, Tughlaqabad Fort, Ferozshah Kotla and Safdarjungs Tomb.
Tourists from other countries would have to pay an entry fee of Rs 300.
The Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was tabled in the Lok Sabha on July 18, 2017 by the Ministry of Culture and was passed by the House on January 2, 2018. It is yet to be tabled in the Upper House.
Notably, the ASI had in May last year announced three-fold hike for domestic visitors and 100 per cent for foreign tourists for entry into the historic monuments, including Konark temple, across the country.
Following this, the ticket price was increased from Rs 10 to Rs 30 for the domestic visitors while for foreign tourists it was doubled from Rs 250 to Rs 500.
The move was criticized and protested by people and tourists and a local outfit, Konark Suraksha Samiti (KSS), had staged demonstration in front of the Sun Temple forcing the district administration to put the implementation of the hike on hold for a month.