India: Concerted campaign planned for promotion of Buddhist sites

PIB, May 29, 2006

New Delhi, India -- To attract the overseas tourist, particularly from South East Asia, the Ministry of Tourism is planning to launch a concerted campaign for promotion of Buddhist sites of India. As a part of this programme, Ministry of tourism has also decided to celebrate the 2550th Birth Anniversary of Lord Buddha in 2006. This was informed by Smt. Ambika Soni, Minister for Tourism and Culture to members of Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her Ministry here today.

Briefing the Members about various initiatives taken recently by the Government, she said that the Ministry of tourism has also chalked out an integrated project covering all Buddhist sites for infrastructure development with assistance from Japanese Government during the current year. This project proposes to cover sites in UP, Bihar Andhra Pradesh, MP, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and J & K.

The total proposed project cost is Rs. 5570 crore covering infrastructure component of roads, airports tourism infrastructure amenities and conservation. A mega project focusing on upgradation of infrastructure to create world-class experience is already under preparation for Buddhist Circuit in Bihar with the assistance of HUDCO. The project will focus on visitor facilitation, creation of tourist amenities, and improvement of the overall ambience and road connectivity, she added.

Smt. Amika Soni said that the Ministry of Tourism has identified 22 important Buddhist sites throughout the country for development and promotion. The work includes strengthening and widening of National and State Highways, road side plantations, conservation of monuments, landscaping, construction of visitor centers, museums, upgradation of meditation centers, electrical and water supply and development of tourism villages and wayside amenities. Beside this, Railway Ministry has been requested to develop Bodhgaya station as a model station and over all improvement of connectivity to all Buddhist sites.

Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Ministry has also been asked to improve road link to major Buddhist destinations. Not only this, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has requested the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to earmark special funds in the plans of concerned States for infrastructure projects which are directly connected with development of Buddhist sites.

The Minister informed the Members that the implementation committee constitiuted to commemorate 2550th anniversary of Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha during 2006 was working on plans which might include an international seminar in November, 06 and various programmes throughout the country to highlight Buddha’s teachings and philosophy.