Vadodara: Gujarat Government is planning to construct and develop an airport at Dholavira in Kutch district, one of the two largest Harappan sites in the country and also a "paradise" for bird-watchers, to connect it to the national circuit for promoting tourism.
State Tourism Minister Saurabh Patel said today said the government has already identified 11 airstrips, including Ambaji, Palitana, Ankleshwar, Dwarka, Mandvi (Kutch), Morbi, Rajkot, Parsoli, Rajpipla, Dholavira and Dahej, for the purpose of setting up the airport.
"The government also wants to promote tourism through intra-state aviation service that will cover routes like Ahmedabad-Surat-Bhavnagar, Bhuj-Rajkot-Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad-Porbandar-Jamnagar, Kandla-Mandvi-Amreli-Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad-Keshod-Diu," the minister added.
"Kutch district has a long history, dating from the Harappan Civilisation that had thrived at Dholavira in the 2nd and 3rd Millennia BC to the Jadeja Rajput rulers, who reigned from 1540s till the merger of states in 1940s, and endowed their princely state with forts, palaces, temples and other monuments of historic and religious importance," Patel said .
The district is currently hosting the 'Rann Festival' (desert festival) which was inaugurated at Dhordo village yesterday by Chief Minister Anandi Patel.
The festival is the brainchild of the then chief minister and incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Patel said the cultural extravaganza has been drawing tourists from across the country and also from abroad in droves with each passing year.
"Kutch is the habitat of the endangered and other wildlife species like the Indian wild ass. This district is known as the paradise for bird-watchers and is also the breeding ground for critically-endangered birds like Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican," said Patel.
In its Red List of 2013, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) in the category of critically endangered species. There are around 50 GIBs in Gujarat and that too only in Kutch.
The minister said Kutch is home for reservoirs that are crucial habitats for water and waterside birds and has flyways for migratory birds.
Major attractions at the three-month-long 'Rann Festival' are a camel safari, desert biking, para-motoring, para-sailing, besides folk music sorties.
"Tourism Department has organised the camel safari in white sand desert of Kutch in moonlight near Ghordo," Patel said.
He said the drive launched by Gujarat Tourism's brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan has boosted the arrival of tourists at Rann Festival.
"In year 2007-08, the event had attracted 7,71,000 tourists which had risen to 16,19,000 tourists in year 2012-13," he added.