Progress ‘very slow’ in tourism ministry’s PRASHAD scheme: Parliamentary panel

Progress ‘very slow’ in tourism ministry’s PRASHAD scheme: Parliamentary panel

New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) A parliamentary panel has observed that there are a total of 45 projects sanctioned under the Tourism Ministry’s PRASHAD scheme out of which “only 20 have been completed”, noting that “its progress is very slow “.

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The committee has also recommended that the Ministry of Tourism may “develop its own mechanism” to collect data on foreign and domestic tourist arrivals and all other data relevant to the tourism sector.

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The panel’s report on Action taken by the Government on the committee’s observations contained in its Report on Demands for Grants (2023-24) of the Ministry of Tourism was presented in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The Ministry of Tourism had launched the Pilgrimage Renewal and Spiritual Heritage Enhancement (PRASHAD) and Swadesh Darshan Schemes in 2014-15 for infrastructure development at tourist destinations, including religious sites, across the country.

Regarding the PRASHAD scheme, the panel observed in its report that “there are a total of 45 projects sanctioned under this scheme out of which only 20 have been completed. Nine projects under this scheme are still awaiting completion with only up to 60 percent progress . There are still 16 projects to be developed under this scheme.”

Considering the fact that this scheme was initiated in 2014-15, “progress is very slow”, the panel noted.

The parliamentary committee also observed that all projects, completed and ongoing, under PRASHAD “have been delayed by at least one year”.

“Several projects like Development of Mathura-Vrindavan, UP as Mega Tourist Circuit (Ph-II) and development of basic facilities at Vishnupad temple, Gaya, Bihar have been delayed for four years. The committee also notes that some of the targets in the EFC proposal of October 2021 for this scheme has not been reached”, the report states.

The committee in its report has pointed out that it is the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism for “the authenticity of the data published in their publications, whatever the sources of collection may be”.

“As long as they are not satisfied with the correctness of the data, the Ministry should not publish them in the public domain”, the report states.

The committee recommends that the Ministry of Tourism can “develop its own mechanism” to collect data on foreign and domestic tourist arrivals and all other data relevant to the tourism sector, he added.

The panel has also recommended that the Ministry of Tourism take all measures to “ensure that the data received by it from ASI and the state governments is accurate”.

In its report, the committee also said it was “surprised to note that although the Ministry of Tourism has proposed 17 destinations as iconic destinations, the government has not approved the proposals.”

The panel recommended that the government could make a decision on the proposals “as soon as possible”.

In its report, the panel said the ministry has submitted that a Standard Tourism Methodology has been developed in line with the UNWTO for a comprehensive and uniform collection of tourism statistics from all districts.

He also said that a “separate budget allocation” should have been kept for a major year-long event like the G20, which is expected to have a lot of impact on Indian tourism.

The committee further noted that the tourism ministry is planning to use India’s G20 presidency to promote domestic and domestic tourism this year. However, the overseas promotion and publicity scheme “has not yet been approved” and the ministry can only carry out decisive and unavoidable activities at this stage.

“The committee feels that this would be a setback to the ministry’s plans for global promotional campaigns. The committee notes that all eight operational overseas promotional offices are being closed. The ministry has stated that alternative promotional methods are being used, but has not specified methods in this regard. The committee notes that tourism officers have been appointed in Indian missions abroad for the purpose of promoting tourism,” the report said.

The panel suggested that the ministry “must not miss the opportunities” offered by the G20 meetings and the “Visit India” promotional campaign and should ensure that a road map for overseas promotion is in place before the start of the next financial year so that the budget can be used.

The committee said it was pleased to see the initiatives taken by the Ministry to take up the issue of selecting 25 tourist sites as a pilot project for forming a separate police unit in the states and UTs.

However, only 14 states have so far deployed tourism police in one form or the other, the panel said, and urged the Ministry to continue to take up the matter with other states to establish and deploy tourism police at destinations in their areas.

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