NGO takes up tourist guides’ issue with Collector

The Hindu | July 13, 2019

‘They are neither regularised nor given share in income’

Rebbapragada Ravi, founder of Samata, an NGO, met District Collector Vinay Chand on Friday and represented the long-pending case of the tourist guides of Borra Caves.

The tourist guides at the million-year-old Borra Caves, which is one among the most sought after tourist destinations, are in dire straits. They have been fighting a battle with the authorities concerned over regularisation of their employment, since last two decades.

About 20 guides, were recruited by the Tourism Department in 1993, on temporary daily wage basis, with promise of regularising them in a short time.

Four of them have died since then and that promise has not been fulfilled till date, despite the then Sub-Collector writing a note to the government to take up the issue.

“They were neither regularised nor they were given the percentage share as per the Samata Judgment,” said Mr. Ravi.

As per the Samata Judgment, tribal people have to been given 20% of the share from income that generates from any commercial venture in the notified areas under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

It has been over 26 years that we have been fighting for justice, but nothing has moved. We were then recruited as daily wagers and now we are under contract with APTDC, said Somesh, a guide.

We are also not being paid the 20% share from sale proceed of tickets, as per the Samata judgement. In the middle, between 1999 and 2000 we were paid, but it was again discontinued, he added.

Meanwhile, the traffic to the Archean age (4000 to 2500 million years) cave has increased phenomenally from about 3 lakh per month during season to over 9 lakhs. But the pay that the guides take home still varies between ₹8,000 to ₹12,500.

Mr. Ravi said that as per the Samata judgement, for all business ventures in Schedule V areas, 20% needs to be ploughed back into the development of the area, which includes human resources.