Rs 100 cr unspent by tourism dept on account of failure to remove Princess


 The tourism department was allocated an all-time high amount of ` 261.30 crore in the last budget for various tourism-related projects including the removal of the M V River Princess, but it has not been able to spend around `100 crore (approximately 40 per cent of its total budget) because of the failure of M/s Arihant Ship Breakers to remove
the vessel.
While steps have been taken to implement almost all the promises made in the last budget, somehow the removal of River Princess, which got grounded at Sinquerim-Candolim beach stretch on June 6, 2000, is an issue that has evaded a solution for long despite efforts by successive governments since then.
Though M/s Arihant claimed to have completed the work on removal, a subsequent survey by the National Institute of Oceanography revealed that a large chunk of the vessel was still lying at the grounded place. The contractor has since been asked to come out with an action plan to remove the same.
Master plan for tourism
Three other major promises made in the last budget as regards to tourism policy, master plan for tourism development and setting up of tourism promotion board for promotion and development of tourism have not been implemented by the government but preliminary steps have been taken to ensure that they are in place. The government has taken steps to ensure that they become a reality in the days ahead by inviting global tenders for appointment of world class consultant to chalk out a plan for framing tourism policy, drawing of the master plan and the tourism promotion board.
The government has, in the meanwhile, designated the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) as the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for creation of all tourism infrastructure. The GTDC would be allocated funds sanctioned by the central government for creation of tourism-related infrastructure.
Tourist attractions
Besides, no steps have been taken for creation of infrastructure such as theme parks, water kingdoms, aquariums, proposed oceanorium at Miramar and other tourist attractions as promised by the government during the last budget. These were envisaged to be developed with private sector participation.
Employment in sector
The government has taken steps to fulfil promise on creation of employment in the sector, with tourism department planning to conduct tourist guide training course during the ensuing monsoon season in collaboration with GIRDA, Old Goa. The trained youth will be given certificates which they could use for getting jobs or for self-employment.
Though the government had identified that there was demand for skilled and unskilled manpower in hotel industry, it has not been able to do much due to the lack of institutes that could be used to impart training to the youth.
New areas of tourism
The government had also announced that newer areas of tourism such as development of adventure tourism, health, medical/wellness tourism, religious tourism, eco-tourism, cultural and heritage tourism, hinterland tourism and other forms of innovative tourism would be promoted but has not been able to come out with concrete plans.
Beach tourism
The government has kept its promise on reduction of shacks on beaches, as well as deck beds. Besides, it has also taken measures to cleanse the beaches of hawkers and beggar menace by deploying police force and acting against those who violate the provisions of the Tourism Trade Act.
The government’s proposal for developing circuits was delayed due to non-availability of consultants and it had recently empanelled 14 consultants who have given the task of preparing the plans, estimates, etc to implement the government decision and could become a reality in the next financial year. [NT]