27% growth in tourists visiting Pondy: Minister

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Puducherry, May 6 (UNI) Puducherry registered a 27 per cent growth in tourist inflow last year with two lakh domestic and 15,000 foreign tourists visiting this union territory last year,Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao told the Legislative Assembly today.

Replying to the discussion on demand for grants for Tourism Department, Mr Rao said the Centre had allocated Rs 22.71 crore for tourism schemes last year.

The 32.50 crore runway expansion project of the Puducherry Airport was under progress and would be completed by the end of this year.

The project report for the setting up of a Rs two crore theme water park had been forwarded to the Centre.

The administration had acquired 100 acre of land for setting up a 'special tourism zone'at Manappet. Compensation to the tune of Rs.3.9 crore had already been disbursed. The balance Rs 49.97 lakh would be given this month.

Work on Rs 4.46 crore eco-beach in Karaikal would be completed by the end of this year, he said adding the Puducherry Beach would be beautified at a cost of Rs five crore . The administration proposed to set up a five star hotel and a family entertainment centre with private participation at Mungapakkam here. The file is awaiting clearance from the Cabinet and Union Home Ministry.

A tourism package for Chennai-Mahabalipuram and Puducherry would be finalised after discussions with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Devlopment Corporation.

Steps would be taken to set up an airport at Karaikal. The administration would set up the Thirunallar Temple Town with HUDCO's assistance and the foundation would be laid shortly,he added.

UNI PAB GM RL ND1730

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