The Madras High Court has directed the State government to submit a report on the outcome of the high-powered committee that met to chart ways for effective maintenance of the world heritage site, Mahabalipuram, and work out the costs involved.
During the previous hearing, the bench had directed the secretaries of Municipal Administration and Water Supply and Finance departments, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) and the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to convene the joint meeting and file a status report of the total requirements of the funds for upkeep and maintenance of the township as a whole and the possible funding sources for the purpose.
The bench had sought for the report to enable it to offer proper directions for the release of funds from various sources for the upkeep of the township.
However, on Tuesday, Advocate General Vijay Narayan appearing for the State submitted that the meeting with the central agencies on providing funds for the upkeep of Mahabalipuram happened only on Monday, and hence sought for more time to submit the report on its outcome.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the Union Ministry of Tourism submitted a report on regulating the resorts and hotels in Mahabalipuram, and added that the process of evolving guidelines for it has commenced.
Appearing for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Assistant Solicitor General G Karthikeyan submitted that ASI had no powers to release funds and added that only the Centre can release funds.
The suo motu plea relating to Mahabalipuram was taken up by the bench based on a note prepared by Justice N Kirubakaran to preserve the beauty and safeguard the monuments at the township that the UNESCO had declared as a world heritage site.
It may be noted that Mahabalipuram had generated a total revenue of Rs 5.98 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 6.65 crore in 2017-18. This went up to Rs 8.14 crore in 2018-19, and up to December 2019, Rs 6.87 crore was collected as entry fee from Indian and foreign tourists who visited the township.