Bengal tourism infrastructure development sluggish: Official

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Kolkata : The progress in developing tourism infrastructure in West Bengal's coastal circuit has been sluggish in spite of receiving Central government's funds under the 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme, a senior official of Ministry of Tourism said on Tuesday.

"The Tourism Ministry sanctioned Rs 85.39 crore for West Bengal's coastal circuit including Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpiur, Frazerganj, Bakkhali, Shankarpur etc under the Swadesh Drashan scheme out of which Rs 42.69 crore has been already released.

"However, the progress of the developmental work in those areas has been relatively slow," J.P. Shaw, Regional Director (East), Ministry of Tourism, said on the sidelines of a seminar on 'Heritage and Weekend Tourism in Bengal', organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry here.

Shaw said West Bengal is currently at fifth position in terms of foreign tourists' inflow and eighth in domestic tourists' visit in the country. (Click here to learn foreign languages easily)

"In Bengal, better showcasing and marketing of the tourist destinations is necessary. Also more skilled man power and better infrastructure is needed to bring more tourists. Unless there are good roads, good connectivity and good accommodation, tourism will not flourish," he said.

The official said the Tourism Ministry has also provided funds under the Ministry of Tourism's 'Prasad' scheme for infrastructural development of Kolkata's Belua Maah, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda.

"The Centre has also sanctioned Rs 30.03 crore for Belur Math, out of which 23.90 crore has been released so far to build an extra jetty at Dakshineswar temple and Other amenities such as drinking water area, LED screen, garbage disposal area and to install adequate lights for the temple premises," he said.

Referring to the 'Prasad' scheme that provides money under the Centre's Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive, the official said Tourism Ministry has not received any other proposals so far from the Bengal government, apart from the Belur Math.

"There are a number of religious places in Bengal like the Tantric town of Tarapith or the Taraknath Temple in Hoogly district's Tarakeswar would be considered. But so far we have not received any such proposals," Shaw noted.

Shaw said the Centre would also provide fresh funds for a new light and sound show in Kolkata's Victoria Memorial after it received the proposal from the state government.

The official said the Ministry has identified three properties from West Bengal including the Cooch Behar palace in Cooch Behar district, Hazarduari palace in Murshidabad district and chain of temples in Bankura district's Bishnupur under the Tourism Department's "Adopt a Heritage" project, that allows private and public sector corporations to adopt India's top heritage sites.