Second phase of Buddhist circuit yet to take off

by Archana Srivastava,TNN, Jul 2, 2008

LUCKNOW, India -- The second phase of the Buddhist circuit, an important component of the Uttar Pradesh tourist sector, is yet to take off as the Central government has not appointed a consultant for it.

The failure on the part of the Central government has delayed the project further, given the fact that it was scheduled to begin in 2007-08, to be completed by 2010-11. With 2008 already half over, sources in the tourism directorate here said that meeting the deadline for the project would be a near impossible task.

The task of appointing a consultant for the project had been vested with the Central government which had initiated action on the count. A tender to this effect had been floated but not much headway could be made as the fee quoted by the consulting firm was too high. Hence, it was decided to float the tender again.

Minister of state for tourism Vinod Singh said the Central government has issued a fresh advertisement for the appointment of a consultant. Hopefully the appointment would be made by the end of December.

As the appointment of a consultant is an important pre-requisite for the development of the second phase of the circuit, no work can be initiated. The state government had made a budgetary provision of Rs 300 crore for the second phase keeping in view the detailed plan drawn for the circuit.

This includes, amongst others, the construction of a road from Kolhai to Hatha situated on the border of the Kushinagar and Maharajganj districts. In addition to this, there was also a plan to strengthen the storm drainage system in Shravasti and Kushinagar districts, construction of the Bahraich bypass as also upgradation of the ASI sites in the two districts. People's participation was also an important component of the plan.

This plan now stands in abeyance following the non-appointment of the consultant. The Buddhist circuit is funded by the Japan Bank of Industrial Corporation (JBIC) which provides money in the form of a soft loan to the Union government. The state governments are required to send their projects for clearance to the Central government.

The circuit which passes through UP, Bihar and other states was developed with the aim of popularising religious tourism by developing sites associated with Lord Buddha.