The oldest guest house of the capital, Yatri Nivas lies in a state of serious neglect with no signs of immediate repair. Even as the demand for affordable accommodation by tourists is on the rise in the city, authorities appear to be indifferent towards improving the facilities and the overall living conditions of the guest house.
Situated in the busy locality of the old Cuttack Road, it was built in the year 1988. It has been, since then, a preferred guesthouse for tourists from the state and outside because of the convenience of its location and affordability. Not only is it a convenient option for the tourists, it also happens to be a good source of revenue for the state government. Yet, the government apathy and neglect towards improving the infrastructure of Yatri Nivasis certainly a matter of concern.
While the increasing flow of tourists to Bhubaneswar has led to a mushrooming of private hotels and lodges, the demand for affordable stay still finds more takers. Low priced and convenient, Yatri Nivas though the most suitable option to stay or organise official programmes and seminars, and other social events, continues to cry for attention.
As it is with all the guest houses set up and maintained by the state government in the major cities of the state, Yatri Nivas too was built to cater to affordable accommodation requirements of tourists. It is a three storied building with 48 rooms for the guests. The cost of the rooms ranges between Rs 1500 – Rs 3000 per day depending on the facilities provided in the room.
Given the low pricing and suitability of location for the guests, most of the rooms usually get booked to the full. But unfortunately, in spite of the high demand, many of the rooms do not get allotted to the guests as they are not in proper living conditions. The ceiling in most of the rooms of the second floor is chipping off in chunks. Besides, the wall along the staircase appears to collapse any moment. The parapets/shades/trellis over the windows are broken and the broken parts keep falling off at times making it dangerous for the guests and staff to move around in the compound.
Despite the grim condition of the building, no repair work has been undertaken so far. The last tender was floated in 2006 and Rs. 40 lakh was approved for renovation of the building. However, only the floors were repaired with new tiles and none of the other problems were addressed. As one of the sources informed MCL, an estimation of more than Rs 2 crores was made to be sanctioned for the repair of the building after a mishap took place during a marriage ceremony being held there. But the estimation still awaits an official clearance, even as the condition of the building is deteriorating by each day.
Prakash Nag, from Shimla and a guest at Yatri Nivas says, “My wife and I decided to stay here since the price was excellent given that it is based at a prime location of the city. But the building is in a horrible condition. I wanted to take a room with attached bathroom, but those rooms are already booked and the rest of the rooms are in a dilapidated condition.”
While maintenance of the guest house is a major issue, the problem gets multiplied with the lack of proper sanitation. The rooms have not been renovated even once in the last 30 years and look the same even today. Many of them still lack the basic requirement of an attached bathroom. Many guests therefore have to depend on the common toilet, which are unclean from frequent use. The rooms are also not cleaned regularly.
Another problem on the list for Yatri Nivas is the decrepit look that it dons. The proposal for the beautification of the whole place with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is pending. There are many vacant spaces inside its premise that could be used for making a lawn or a garden.
“If some of these facilities can be taken care of, YatriNivas would do great business. Instead a private hotel next to the Yatri Nivas is doing a brisk business by upgrading a few basic facilities,” said a source.
Thus, as guests complain of the terrible condition of the guest house, My City Links asks Assistant Manager Umakant Nayak about what measures are being taken to resolve the problems. “Yatri Nivas has always been a favourite among tourists as a reliable and affordable place to stay during their trips to the city. Not only tourists, the demand is high among local people who want to rent its premises for various purposes. However, I agree that our services to our guests could become better if the building was somewhat renovated,” said Umakant.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of BMC Shrimanta Kumar Mishra said, “As this guest house caters mainly to middle and lower middle class people, the rooms are offered at quite reasonable rates. So renovation work can be on hold for a while. As far as repair work is concerned, we can only update you after an examination by an engineer.”
On the contrary, Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said, “The repair work at Yatri Nivas is a priority for BMC like all other projects. Although it is basically meant to provide standard accommodation at a cheap rate for small budget spenders, we are not in denial of the inconvenience they may be facing during their stay. The repair work needed at YatriNivas is already on the plan. In fact, an engineer has also been assigned the responsibility to submit a ground technical report. After submission of his report, we would invite tenders and repairing work will commence soon after. Even though no formal plans for renovation of the space have been proposed, we still plan to undertake some sort of renovation for the building soon.”