'Funds aplenty yet northeast tourism at nascent stage'
Apr 11, 2007 - 4:16:13 PM
New Delhi, April 11 - Senior central government officials Wednesday criticised the northeastern states for non- implementation of projects and misuse of funds earmarked for the tourism sector.
Lack of diligence on the state government's part and not lack of funds is what hampers the impending tourism boom in the region, said tourism secretary Ashok Mishra on the second day of the third North East Business Summit here.
'The northeastern region of India is ethnically and linguistically most diverse. It is pregnant with an immense amount of possibilities and potential. However, due to the delay in carrying out the various projects that are sanctioned, funds are getting misused, costs are escalating and projects are not getting completed,' he said.
Mishra said that projects are sometimes planned without thorough analysis. This, in addition to the delays, leads to other problems like land disputes with locals, forest officials and others who make claims on the sanctioned land.
Lack of proper infrastructure and good connectivity are the other barriers in this sector.
'To attract more tourists, there should be better connectivity, more hotels, restaurants and resorts near areas of interest. We have identified potential areas in the eight states - for various projects,' said Archana Capoor of the Tourism Finance Corporation of India.
Capoor said that after a detailed survey, 14 locations were identified in the northeast for setting up business hotels. Other than that, projects for resorts and budget hotels near sanctuaries, wildlife parks and other places of interest are also being implemented.
Ongoing projects include a deluxe hotel near the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, resorts and hotels in Shillong -, Aizwal -, Bomdila and Tawang - and Gangtok -.
Three ropeway projects in Assam are also on their way to completion.
The states should not compete with each other for the same category of tourism, said Capoor. 'There are so many kinds of tourism that can flourish there, be it health, ecology, adventure or wildlife.
'Each state should take care of one of the sectors of tourism so that tourists don't just flock to one state and get to discover all the eight. Also, the presence of all attractions in one place can mar the potential of other places,' she added.
Echoing Mishra, Capoor said that funds were the least of the problems. 'Ten percent of the ministry's budget outlay is dedicated to the northeast but there are no specific gains,' she said.
However, Mishra warned: 'Mass tourism can harm the fragile ecosystem. What we encourage is a controlled tourism that will open up job opportunities for the local community without harming the ecosystem.'
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