Soni reviews tourism projects in Punjab

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Hoshiarpur, Jan 16 (UNI) Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni held a review meeting of tourism and culture projects pertaining to Punjab here this evening.

Minister for Tourism, Punjab, Hira Singh Gabria, senior officers of the Union and the State governments were present in the meeting.

The Minister reviewed the projects under the l0th Five Year Plan during which an amount of Rs 47.74 crore was sanctioned, out of which Rs 31.50 crore was released. During 2006-07 alone an amount of Rs 24.52 crore was sanctioned, out of which Rs 13.10 crore was released.

In recognition of the potential of tourism in the State, a number of initiatives were undertaken during the tenth plan period such as integrated development of Amritsar, Attari-Wagha, Patiala, Kapurthala and Ropar as tourism destinations.

Integrated development of Freedom Circuit and integrated development of destination pilgrim circuit 'Land of Gurus and Saints' were other major initiatives during the period.

For the development of Hoshiarpur as a tourism destination in the year 2007-08, Rs 4 crore has been sanctioned - for environmental up-gradation of Bajwara fort, tourism development of Sadu Ashram, Sham Churasi, VV Research Institute and others.

In order to promote Punjab as an international tourism destination, Ministry of Tourism has provided the consultancy through the Asian Development Bank and facilitated preparation of Tourism Master Plan of state through United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

With a view to create employment opportunities for the youth of Punjab, Ambika Soni said that she had cleared one more IHM at Boothgarh in Hoshiarpur and discussed the possibility of setting of a Food Craft Institute for skilled development in the hospitality sector in an area to be identified later in consultation with state government.

The Union Ministry of Tourism is already running Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) at Gurdaspur, she said.

She also reviewed the progress of the project for development of Jallianwalabagh National Memorial which is slated to be completed by March 31, 2008. She emphasised on the timely completion of the project along with the sound and light show.

The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama project, which had been launched in July, 2006 at the Rambagh Heritage Garden, was also appraised and she expressed satisfaction on the popularity of the Panorama and its good upkeep.

The development of Anandpur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo, as a part of the Ter-centenary celebrations of the Guru-ta-Gaddi, at a proposed cost of nearly Rs 180 crore, is also the last stage of approval by the Union Cabinet.

The proposal to name the route from Punjab to Huzur Sahib Nanded as Guru Gobind Singh Marg, is also being taken up for approval of the Central Government and is likely to be approved shortly.

The Minister will review other matters related to Culture Ministry during her next visit.

Ms Soni underlined the importance of timely completion of Central projects like National Rural Employment Guarantee Program which are pending implementation with the state government. As per the guidelines, the implementation of the projects is the responsibility of the state government.

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