Centre mulls luxury trains in Buddhist circuit

by Pranava K Chaudhary, TNN, Feb 6, 2009

PATNA, India -- The Union tourism ministry is toying with the idea to introduce luxury trains in the Buddhist circuit in Bihar on the pattern of the prestigious Palace on Wheels.

"We are in touch with the railway ministry to explore the feasibility of introducing luxury trains in the Buddhist circuit in order to attract more and more domestic tourists," said Union minister of state for tourism Kanti Singh in Patna on Thursday.

Speaking to TOI, she said that the Palace on Wheels is popular among foreigners. "I want that domestic tourists should also avail of similar facilities while moving in the Buddhist sector in Bihar and UP," she added.

Additional secretary, ministry of tourism, Sanjay Kothari told TOI that there was a substantial growth in the inflow of international as well as domestic tourists in 2008. There was 5.6 per cent growth of international tourists in the country last year. There has not been any impact on tourist inflow in India except for the few months after the Mumbai terror attack, he said.

The minister said that the Bihar government's step-motherly treatment has hampered railway projects in the state. Due to non-availability of lands, several rail projects are pending, she said.

The Centre has released a sum of Rs 65 crore since 2002 till 2007 in the tourism sector out of which the Bihar government has so far spent only Rs 41 crore, she said.

"We have surveyed major waterfalls at Tutala located in the dense forest of Rohtas district. My officials have submitted a detailed report of Tutala falls which can be compared with any waterfalls in the world. We want to develop it as one of the major destinations for tourists. Similarly, we have identified 19 places which could be developed as rural tourist spots," she said.