The Archaeological Survey of India is expected to revise ticket prices from April 1, which would see a three-fold hike over existing rates.
A gazette notification to this effect was issued on July 31 last year, but action over it has really taken a long time. In fact, there was no word on the revision from the ASI or the ministry of culture until Friday. Highly placed sources said the new rates were supposed to come by November 1 last year; but there was tremendous pressure from the tourism lobby on the ministry to delay the implementation.
The proposed rates are Rs 750 (existing Rs 250) for foreigners and Rs 30 (existing Rs 10) for Indians at world heritage sites, and Rs 300 (existing Rs 100) for foreigners and Rs 15 (present price is Rs 5) for Indians at other central monuments. Filming rates, too, have been hiked to Rs 1 lakh a day with Rs 50,000 as refundable security deposit for category A monuments, and Rs 50,000 with Rs 10,000 security for category B ones.
ASI has 119 ticketed monuments in its jurisdiction of which 32 are world heritage sites. In Delhi, there 10 ticketed monuments of which three are world heritage sites. The daily revenue from ticket sales is approximately Rs 25 lakh-Rs 30 lakh. During the peak tourist season (October-March), revenue goes up to about Rs 50 lakh a day.
"New tickets have to be printed with revised rates and visitors should be informed in advance. However, everything is quiet so it does not seem likely that the new rates will come into effect any time soon," a senior ASI official said.
Heritage conservationists slammed ASI for the delay. "Had the ticket prices been revised from November, ASI would have earned up to an additional Rs 50 lakh daily. On a monthly basis, the loss in revenue comes to approximately Rs 15 crore-Rs 20 crore," said a conservationist.
He added, "The additional revenue would have gone a long way in funding conservation and upkeep of over 3,600 centrally-protected monuments, many of which are in a shambles." Another expert said, "The revision took ASI over a decade. There are some museums at ASI sites where entry costs as low as Rs 2."