Thursday, September 27, 2012

Focus on Basic Infrastructure: Amit Sateja


INTERVIEW: Amit Sateja, Director, Tourism
Focus on Basic Infrastructure: Amit Sateja

Amit Sateja, Director, Tourism, AN Admn tried to clarify issues related to Viper Yatch Marina Project. However, he has set his priorities right with focus on basic amenities at tourism sites and building a convincing "Brand Andaman". Excerpts from the interview:

There is an allegation that the revenue model adopted in Yatch Marina Project is flawed? What if the Company shows loss in the books?
We have not mentioned about profit sharing. Its revenue sharing and the company is bound to share 15% of the revenue with the Admn.

What was the criterion for fixing Re 1 for the land component for the next 35 years?
We have followed the guidelines set by Planning Commission and in PPP mode; the land is leased out for Re 1 only.

What about the concession fee for the water front, which is fixed at Rs 11.38 lakhs per annum? Is there any clause to increase the charges if it's revised by Port Management Board (PMB)?
Yes, in the agreement, we have clearly specified that the charges will increase if PMB revises it.

When the L1 bidder quoted 15% revenue sharing, the L2 has quoted just 5% percent. Don't you think that the vast difference suggests foul play?
In PPP model, many figures are arrived based on assumptions. How can we question them? If they have quoted 15% revenue share, it's a good preposition for the government.

You have not specified the services for which the Company has to share the revenue. What if the Company diverts its activities thus diverting revenue as well?
They have the right to utilise the services of other service providers.

The Planning Commission had raised many objections about the project. Why did EFC or ANI Admn overlook it?
See, in a meeting, diverse views come up. However, the final decision arrived by the Committee has to be accepted.

Coming to tourism sector, why the whole focus is in South Andaman? North and Middle Andaman remains neglected.
The Ministry of Tourism has already engaged Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) for a project circuit starting from Port Blair to Diglipur touching 8-9 tourism spots. Basic amenities with required infrastructure will be provided at each site and a circuit will be developed, for which the survey will start very soon.
Moreover, for tourism to take off, we need to have an anchor Island. For South Andaman, it's Havelock at present. We need to sort out the connectivity issues for tourism to develop in the Islands.

What is the status of Canopy Walk? The Admn lost two years in vain trying to procure Padauk.
Yes, now the proposal to use Padauk has been dropped. We are using galvanised steel for the pillars and for the walkway, steel covered with padauk. We need five clear months to complete the project.

Don't you think that tourism is highly subsidised in the Islands? Instead of earning revenue, we are spending on tourists.
We need to look into differential pricing for tourists and local population for the same services like transportation fares to make tourism profitable. I will look into it.

What is your focus area? Do you have any projects in the anvil?
My first priority is to create basic facilities like change rooms, drinking water and sheds at tourism sites.
Building Brand Andaman is another area where we are concentrating. The tourism website is being revamped and service providers' directory is in the process of updation. Once, we have the list of registered service providers, we will share the Tourism Insignia with them to be used on tourist vehicles.
We are also planning to take the representatives of Associations to all festivals, national and international.
This year in the IITF, 40% space of the ANI stall is reserved for tourism. Moreover, we are continuously pursuing the issue of exorbitant airfare in the mainland sector. Hopefully, the issue will be resolved soon.

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