Utpal Borpujari

August 3, 2010

Govt seeking IFC support to develop Buddhist Circuit

By Utpal Borpujari

Even though thousands of pilgrims and tourists from abroad throng the Buddhist destinations in the country every year, these places suffer from severe lack of amenities, something which the Centre has set out to rectify at last with the possible support of International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The Ministry of Tourism, worried that the lack of proper tourist infrastructure, such as good trains and roads as well as wayside amenities in these destinations, located mainly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, was creating a negative image about India, has now taken up a project to address all these ills plaguing the Buddhist Circuit.

The inspiration to approach IFC, which is part of the World Bank group, was drawn from the agency’s support to the development of the Inca Trail in the Machu Picchu region of Peru.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed and hope the IFC would get on board to develop the Buddhist Circuit with international amenities. Right now, these places have no proper airport except in Gaya, no proper trains connecting all of them, and abysmal road conditions,” Tourism Ministry secretary Sujit Banerjee said here.

Places like Gaya, Sarnath and Sravasti in the Buddhist circuit are thronged by thousands of tourists from South-East Asian nations, Japan, China and the rest of world every year. “But we have no good infrastructure to support them except the sites themselves,” said Banerjee.

IFC has already supported one tourism project in Rajasthan, and the ministry is hopeful that it would lend its financial support to the Buddhist Circuit too.

While the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd, an arm of the Indian Railways, sometime back launched a train called Mahaparinirvan Express connecting all important places of Buddhist pilgrimages in India besides one in Nepal, the Tourism Ministry feels it is not adequate enough.

The Tourism Secretary said he had held discussions with his counterpart in the Railway Ministry in this regard. “In fact, our thrust has been a ‘convergence project’ with other government sectors so as to offer tourists a seamless experience while travelling in the country,” Banerjee said.

In this regard, the Ministry’s ambitious project to develop a Hospitality Development Promotions Board is at an advanced stage, he said.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 02-08-2010)


September 1, 2009

Don’t waste water power in tourism projects: Govt of India

Filed under: Deccan Herald,India,Media,Tourism — Utpal Borpujari @ 3:29 pm
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By Utpal Borpujari

With drought-conditions having hit large parts of the country leading to water and power scarcity, the Centre has directed all states to discourage wastage of the two resources through water fountains and illuminations in tourist spots.

A directive to this effect has been sent to all state and Union Territory chief secretaries by the Ministry of Tourism.

The directive, part of instructions to implement a set of guidelines in designing tourism projects, also says that the states and UTs must ensure that water source,  required quantity of water and irrigation system are available in the vicinity before commencing a project.

Further, rainwater harvesting, ground water recharging and zero discharge will have to be adopted by the states in tourism projects.

These and quite a few other guidelines have been formulated by the ministry following a workshop on development of world class tourism infrastructure in the capital recently.

The workshop, chaired by Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, had participation of architects, engineering organisations, tourism managers and consultants, and was aimed at sensitizing various stakeholders of the industry towards the emerging trends in world class tourism. 

In a letter to state and UT chief secretaries, Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee has said they should concentrate on four broad categories of urban civic amenities, built heritage & signages, climatically-responsive and vernacular architecture, and urban landscape.

States should, the guidelines said, have one window clearance for tourism-related projects, and also that effort should be made to formulate schemes under mega destinations projects/circuits in consonance with the Jawaharl Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

“These guidelines would form the basis of any further tourist development project in state/UT administrations,” Banerjee said. 

The states have also been asked to encourage free and frequent distribution of high quality tourist maps, guides, CDs, posters,  tourism calendars, fold and take-along maps, and create wayside amenities  about every 50 km on roads leading to the tourist destinations. 

The states will also have to follow international norms and guidelines, including UNESCO Charters, for World Heritage Sites in particular and for other heritage sites and monuments in general.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 01-09-2009)


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