Pune: Questions Arise Over Utilization of Funds from Nuisance Charges at Sinhagad Fort

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Pune, 15th July 2023: Concerns have been raised regarding the lack of facilities for tourists, despite the collection of lakhs of rupees in nuisance charges every month at the check posts in Golewadi and Kondhanpur Phata on the Ghat road of Sinhagad Fort. Additionally, there are grievances regarding the lack of security measures taken by the forest department.

The allocation of funds generated from these nuisance charges has raised questions among tourists. In response, the Forest Department has clarified that the funds are utilized for worker salaries and necessary measures.

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To access Sinhagad via vehicle, visitors are required to pay a nuisance fee of Rs 50 for two-wheelers and Rs 100 for four-wheelers. Check posts have been set up by the forest department at Golewadi for tourists coming from the Donje side and at Kondhanpur Fata on the Ghat road for tourists coming from the Kondhanpur side.

At these check posts, employees collect the nuisance charges and provide receipts to incoming motorists. Due to the significant daily influx of tourists to Sinhagad, an average of ten to fifteen lakh rupees is collected per month. During the rainy season, when tourist numbers surge, an average of twenty to twenty-five lakh rupees is collected monthly.

The collected funds are deposited in a Bank of Maharashtra branch at Khanapur on behalf of the Forest Committee. However, concerns have been raised regarding the lack of improvements at the fort itself, including the neglected historic tanks and the absence of guardrails at hazardous locations, free drinking water and toilet facilities, emergency assistance arrangements, and first aid facilities.

Regarding the utilization of the funds, Pradeep Sankpal, the Bhamburda Forest Range Officer, explained that the money is fully accounted for and audited annually. It is primarily allocated for employee salaries and fort-related work. The remaining balance is held in the Forest Committee’s account, with two fixed deposits. A written daily declaration is maintained for all deposited nuisance charges, and receipts are issued accordingly.

Current status:

Charges accrued per month: Rs. 15 to 20 lakhs

Total employees: 33

Salary expenses per month: Rs. 4 lakh 10 thousand

Balance in the account: Rs. 30 lakh 53 thousand 576

Fixed deposit: Rs. 1 crore 5 lakh