Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guides to get training, licences in time for 2010

While the state government plans to train cab drivers to double up as guides to meet the high demand during the Commonwealth Games, the Central government has all these years refused to train and issue licences to qualified guides who have cleared an entrance examination — thereby contributing to this shortage.

This stand of the government, that has led to lack of expert guides in the run up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games has now been rejected by Delhi High Court. Acting on a petition filed by such qualified guides who have not been granted licenses, justice Ravindra S Bhat recently cleared the decks for their training, asking the department of tourism to induct the selected candidates and impart training, followed by licences.

HC disagreed with the government’s decision to abdicate its duty of selection and training of qualified guides. The central government had cited a Rajasthan HC ruling saying recruitment was job of the state government but justice Bhat differed, holding "government is bound to proceed and forward names of those candidates who qualified according to the criteria spelt out" under the examination scheme. Challenging the government’s recruitment process for intake of guides, a tourist guides organization had, through its lawyer Anjana Gosain, moved HC against the tourism department and ASI, alleging gross mismanagement in the recruitment process.

Complaining that they were being denied licenses and barred from working at a time when there was a demand for guides, the petitioners said an examination process initiated in 2007 for guides has suddenly been scrapped even though it was set in motion under HC orders. Moreover, even those who were selected under the half-baked scheme have not begun getting training yet, leaving them in the lurch because they can’t work till they finish training under official auspices.

"More than 3000 applicants appeared for the examination and only 300 have been selected for training who have then been left in the lurch. There cannot be any limit on the number of guides as tourism has grown by leaps and bounds. The scheme is not for recruitment but for self employment hence restriction on number ought to be lifted especially because government doesn’t have to spend any money on these candidates who have to generate work after clearing the examination," Gosain had earlier argued before HC.