KOLKATA – How many times have you felt deeply frustrated after being heckled and harassed by taxi drivers and touts on landing in the city? Horror stories of visitors and even local people at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations, airport and places like the Kalighat temple are rampant. Soon, there should be
helping hands and a platform for victims to air their grievances. The state government is coming up with a 100-strong force the tourist police to deal exclusively with such issues.
“To begin with, the force will be deployed at Howrah station, Sealdah station, airport and Alipore Zoo,” state tourism secretary Raghavendra Singh said on Friday. The plan for a tourist police force on the lines of a similar force in Goa was originally mooted in 2003, but the plan never saw the light of the day. Later, city police took up the initiative to launch it with 180 constables, inspectors and sub-inspectors, headed by two additional commissioners. But this, too, never happened.
Now the tourism department, with funds from the Centre, is going ahead with the force which will have ex-defence personnel as recruits. “They will not have the power to penalise but they can always forward cases to the city or state police. Their main job would be to look into the well-being and pleasant stay of visitors so that they carry back a good impression of the city,” Singh said.
Special booths will be set up at places of tourist attraction like Kalighat temple, Victoria Memorial, Park Street, New Market and Sudder Street. If visitors are harassed or require any help, they can approach the tourist police with their grievances. “The force, which will require Rs 3 crore a year, will also keep a tab on tourist movement, which is essential from a security point of view,” said an official.