NEW DELHI: Under-utilisation of over 50 per cent of allocated funds in developing the Buddhist circuit by the Ministry of Tourism is a ‘matter of concern’, said a parliamentary standing committee report on ‘development of Buddhist circuit in India’. It also sought details on the steps taken to preserve the ancient Buddhoist sites and relics.
With over Rs 110 crore released during 2016-17 and 2017-18, Rs 55 crore was utilised and over Rs 4 crore remained unspent, the report observed. The committee recommended the ministry to chalk out a fresh fiscal roadmap for proper utilisation of funds under the scheme of developing the Buddhist circuit.
The ministry of tourism should encourage states/UTs to expand Hot air balloon safaris which are a huge hit among tourists to tap into India’s potential tourism growth and update the panel on the progress made, said a recommendation. This should be followed by regular review of safety and quality norms for adventure tourism.
The panel pointed out the need for an off-season stabilisation fund in order to overcome seasonality of tourism activities in the circuit. It sought details on till what extent market development assistance scheme was succeeded in sustaining and developing off-season tourism in the Buddhist circuit.
Railway stations in Buddhist circuit like Rajgir in Bihar, Shravasti and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh should be upgraded and air connectivity improved in order to boost tourism, it recommended.
Promotion of Buddist legacy in international and national Buddhist markets, remote areas of India where digital means are limited, a mobile application, giving wider digital publicity to Buddhist sites, including tourist applications, video blogs would help boost tourism at the Buddhist circuit, the panel said.
The report pointed out the need for comprehensive development of the sites for attracting foreign tourists while also adopting a pro-poor tourism approach. Developing ‘excellent infrastructure’ can help draw foreign tourists. It directed the ministry to keep it apprised on the steps taken in this direction.