Ballari: The announcement of a Tourism University at the World Heritage Site, Hampi, by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in the state budget, has elicited a mixed response in Ballari district where the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagar empire is situated.
While the majority of people in Ballari district have welcomed the setting up of the Tourism University, others have termed it as a 'white elephant' which the state can ill-afford. CM Kumaraswamy has earmarked Rs 3 crore for setting up the varsity.
Dr Subbarao, an admirer of Hampi's heritage has welcomed the proposal and stated that Hampi, which has great tourist attractions like the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire, Tungabhadra river, a sloth bear sanctuary, migratory birds to the Tungabhadra backwaters and the newly started zoological garden, has huge potential for the growth of tourism. "Setting up of a tourism university will help achieve coordinated development of tourism in the region", he added.
He said 228 acres of land belonging to the tourism department located behind the Hampi Kannada University in Kamalapur near Hampi could be used to set up the tourism university. "There is no need for acquisition of land. Since, the Kannada university too is located nearby, they can both enter into an understanding and work for development of tourism", he suggested.
The UNESCO had declared Hampi a World Heritage Site which is now next only to Agra in attracting both foreign and domestic tourists in the country. Scores of resorts and hotels have come up in and around Hampi to cater to tourist needs and have created job opportunities for local people too.
However, a few people argue that there is no need for a tourism university in the state. "There is no university specifically related to tourism anywhere in the world. There is no need for one in our state too. Already, universities are mushrooming in every district. The government is unable to run the existing universities properly. Under these circumstances, there is no need for another white elephant", said a history lecturer on the condition of anonymity.
There are already two universities functioning in Ballari district. Hampi Kannada university is located in the area and it would have been sufficient to open a separate department here. This could have helped avoid the need for acquisition of land, the spending of additional funds, recruitment of staff and other expenditure, said the lecturer.
Sri Krishna Devaraya University at Ballari is already running a PG course on tourism and has sought government additional funds for the department. "Instead of allocating funds to the tourism department in our university, the government has proposed the setting up of a separate university for tourism. There is no need for a separate university. We will persuade the government to allocate funds to our university", said Mr Subhash, vice chancellor of Sri Krishna Devaraya University.