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HomeNews ReportsOpen Ajanta Ellora caves with 50% capacity like theatres, gyms: Aurangabad tourism body writes...

Open Ajanta Ellora caves with 50% capacity like theatres, gyms: Aurangabad tourism body writes to MH govt

According to the local reports, this decision of the government has caused major inconvenience to the international tourists as this is the third time since March 2020, that the caves have been shut.

On Tuesday, an Aurangabad-based tourism association has written to Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray asking to re-open the historical sites like Ellora and Ajanta Caves that have been shut for tourists amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra.

The Aurangabad Tourism Development Foundation (ATDF), in its letter to Thackeray has said that theaters, which are closed venues are being allowed to operate with an attendance cap but not such sites. It states that the number of visitors to these sites must be restricted in view of the pandemic but they should not be closed completely.

According to ATDF President, Jaswant Singh Rajput, keeping world-renowned sites like Ellora and Ajanta Caves shut will adversely affect the tourism sector in the region. The organisation led by Rajput has urged the Maharashtra governmnet to allow such sites to open with 50 per cent capacity.

The letter further stated that the Ajanta and Ellora caves are spread over 2.5 km and that there would be no problem in ensuring proper social distancing among the visiting public. “The caves are better ventilated naturally than the shopping malls and cinema theatres and hence are capable to operate with 50 per cent capacity”, it added.

According to the local reports, this decision of the government has caused major inconvenience to the international tourists as this is the third time since March 2020, that the caves have been shut. “This will lead to a humongous economic loss to also all those who are dependent for their livelihood on tourism in and around Aurangabad”, Thackeray was informed.

Both the cave sites are UNESCO World Heritage Centres and attract millions of tourists every year.

Tourism has been the most battered sector in this pandemic and frequent closures of these monuments will create a huge negative impact both economically and psychologically on all stakeholders in the tourism industry in and around the city of Aurangabad, the letter asserted. The ATDF has also meanwhile ensured execution of full COVID protocols inside the caves.

The number of new COVID cases in Aurangabad has jumped to 317, with the active tally now at 1,141. The new cases comprise 276 from city limits and 41 from the rural areas.

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