During my recent visit to Ranganathittu, I was shocked at
the camera charges. While the authorities in general allowed visitors to take
camera for free, people with SLR cameras and lens greater than 500 mm had to pay
This led me to think about the rationale of charging cameras.
I haven’t seen separate charges for cameras in developed
world. Once the entry charges are paid, tourists are free to take photographs
at their will. There are restrictions on using flash and tripods at certain locations
but that is mainly to preserve the place. Restrictions are also in place for many
sensitive locations which is understandable. But the story in India is
different. From long time there are separate fees for using cameras at tourist
places. It may be because the authorities considered that only rich people use
cameras and they wanted a share of it. Video cameras (Handycams) were
considered even more luxury items and charged 10-20 times more than still
The recent technological advances in mobile phones made this
concept redundant. As more and more people started having smart phones, the
need for a separate still and video camera reduced and Government earned less
money. But then a new breed of people started coming in. The SLR camera became
digital resulting in affordable photography. The professional DLSR and lens are
still out of reach for many people but the price of amateur DSLR and lens are
reduced. This led to people taking out their possessions and flooding many
places especially forest reserves.
And then the separate charges for SLR cameras were introduced.
I looked for information behind the motive of this system
but could get only limited insight from the link here.
The Government people have a perception that people will big
camera and money earn money by taking photos at “their” forests and wanted a
share of it. Try an experiment. Just take a photo of a bird or a tiger and try
to sell it. No one buys them. One can earn his living by wedding, portrait and
fashion photography but not from wildlife. All people I know earn money by
associated business. Majority of people take photographs for the sheer fun of
it and the joy it brings during the process of photography. But even if we
consider that people earns money by photography, why should forest department
charge fees for it? People would also write about their trip experience in
papers and earn money or conduct commercial trips based on their experience.
Can one charge for all those things? It is absurd and there is no end to the
madness. Also, people have paid taxes when they have purchased cameras and
manufacturer also paid taxes to government during the process. And if one earns
by photograph he pays income tax for it (considering it is done legally).
Coming to Ranganathittu charges, the logic of 500mm look
hilarious. If they are looking to charge rich people they should understand
that one can get an average performing 150-600 lens for Rs 70,000 but a professional
400mm F2.8 Nikon lens cost more than ten lakhs!! The former has to shell out
500 rupees to take his camera in while it is free for the later!!
But I agree that if one starts demanding extra resources
like a separate Jeep or boat to suit his needs or to regulate people (Movie,
serial shooting) then there is no harm in charging extra.
Let me know your opinion about the same.
Labels: birding, boating, Experience, travel