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4 Apr, 2012

India Okays 160 Tourism Projects During 2011-12, Boosts Highway Development


New Delhi, April 3, 2012 (Press Information Bureau) – According to the Annual Report of the Ministry of Tourism for the year 2011-12 released here today, the Ministry has approved 160 tourism projects for an amount of Rs. 710.02 crores for tourism infrastructure augmentation to States/Union Territories upto 31st December, 2011.

The Ministry has given special focus on development of important destinations/circuits through approval of mega projects. Mega tourism projects are a judicious mix of culture, heritage, spiritual and eco tourism and aim to give tourists a holistic experience. As on 29.02.2012, the Ministry has identified 53 mega tourism projects in consultation with State Governments, out of which 35 have been approved.

The Ministry holds prioritization meetings with State Governments/ UT Administrations before the beginning of a financial year to identify tourism projects for Central Financial assistance in the coming financial year. For the year 2012-13, the meetings began in December 2011 and upto February 16, 2012, meetings with 21 States/UTs were held.

Priority is being given to projects involving construction and upkeep of wayside amenities along highways/roads leading to tourist destinations, cleanliness at tourism sites and development of tourism in backward areas. 2.5% of Ministry’s total plan outlay for 2011-12 has been earmarked for development of tourism in tribal areas. This is an addition to the 10% outlay earmarked for the North-Eastern States.

Ministry of Tourism organised an All-India workshop on December 20, 2011 to evolve strategies for launching a Campaign Clean India. Based on the recommendations made in the workshop, the Ministry will shortly launch the Campaign Clean India aimed at creating collective mindsets of hygiene and cleanliness through persuasion, education, sensitization, training, demonstration and regulation.

In October 2011, Standing Operating Procedure was laid down giving timeliness for specific activities for classification/reclassification of hotels under different star categories. Further, to increase transparency in classification/reclassification activities, from January 2012 the Ministry has introduced a system for making available the status of pending applications on its website.

The outcome of the Visa on Arrival scheme introduced in January 2010 has been encouraging with 12,761 persons having availed of this facility in 2011. The Ministry is making efforts to extend this facility to nationals of more countries.

7,957 Kms of New Road Projects Awarded in 2011-12, Up 54%

The Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Dr. C.P. Joshi has said that in the financial year 2011-12, his Ministry  awarded bids for construction of a total of 7,957 kms in roads and highways in FY 2011-12. This comprises of 6491 km by the National Highway Authority of India (49 projects) and 1,466 km (13 projects) by Ministry through state agencies. This achievement is about 54% better than in 2010-11 in which 5,058 km were awarded by NHAI and 108 km by the Ministry through state agencies, totaling 5,166 km.

He said that a very significant aspect of the success story of FY 2011-12 has been the state agencies (PWDs and State Road Development Corporations) making a giant leap in awarding projects under public private partnership (PPP) under NHDP and Ministry of Finance’s VGF scheme — from zero to 1,466 km in two years. The capacity building of the states in this field augurs well for the road sector.

The Minister said the bids have been much more attractive than expected. Out of 49 bids awarded in NHAI 32 fetched premium. The total premium offered was about Rs 3000 crores. In the Ministry out of 13 projects awarded 5 fetched premium of a total of Rs 38 crores. Since the premium is payable yearly increasing by 5% every year, the Net Present Value (NPV) of the total premium offered is about Rs 30,400 crores.

Dr. Joshi said that the total project cost of the 62 projects awarded in FY 2011-12 is about Rs 68,000 crores, which is the highest ever. This will give tremendous boost to economic growth. He said the Ministry wants to accelerate this achievement in 2012-13 and meet the target of 8,800 km set by the Finance Minister in his budget speech. “We already have about 1500 km whose bids are either under evaluation or due in April, May 2012,” he said.

The Minister acknowledged the support from the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission in overcoming various procedural difficulties, in accordance with the plan to boost to infrastructure development as the main driver of the economic growth.

He said that ensuring smooth flow of traffic through the toll gates by implementation of electronic toll collection has been an important initiative. The first pilot project involving three concessionaires in Delhi-Chandigarh stretch is ready for commercial operation. In 2012-13 it is planned to expand it in several parts of the country.

The Minister said that a major contributory factor in the tremendous growth has been transparency and objectivity in the tendering process. NHAI has completely switched to e-tendering. All the concession documents, the CVs of the supervision consultants, engineers have been placed on the website. Very few organisations parallel this level of transparency. He insisted that state agencies too shift to e-tendering forthwith.