New Delhi: The tourism ministry has sanctioned two projects in Bihar and Kerala at a cost of Rs 125 crore under the Rural Circuit as part of its endeavour to take tourism to villages of the country.
In a written reply to a question from BJP MP Rakesh Sinha in Rajya Sabha, Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said the ministry has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Integrated Development of theme-based tourist circuits for development of tourism infrastructure, including last-mile connectivity.
He said that recognising the potential of rural tourism in the country, the ministry has identified Rural Circuit as one of the 15 thematic circuits for development under this scheme.
"The objectives of the Swadesh Darshan scheme include creating employment through active involvement of local communities and promoting community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach," Patel said.
"Based on the above criteria, the ministry has sanctioned two projects total amounting to Rs 125.02 crore for development of Rural Circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme which are under different stages of implementation," he said.
Patel said one of the projects was sanctioned in Bihar during financial year 2017-18 and this was development of Bhitiharwa -Chandrahia -Turkaulia circuit, amounting to Rs 44.65 crore.
The other was sanctioned in Kerala, during 2018-19 and this was development of Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism, amounting to Rs 80.37 crore, he said.
The ministry has also instituted a National Tourism Award in the category of 'Best Rural/Agri/Plantation Tourism Projects' to motivate the stakeholders in the tourism sector for implementing such projects.
"The Ministry of Rural Development has informed us that their Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) follows the vision of development of a cluster of villages that preserve and nurture the essence of rural community life with focus on equity and inclusiveness without compromising with facilities perceived to be essentially urban in nature, thus creating a cluster of 'Rurban Villages'," he said.
Under the mission, 300 clusters are being developed across 28 states and eight union territories. Tourism is one of the themes of Rurban cluster development.
Tourism related activities and projects are among the 21 component categories under the SPMRM.
Patel said the ministry of rural development has informed that a total 67 Rurban clusters have proposed tourism-related activities in gram panchayats across 26 states and union territories.
The major objective of the Rural Tourism Circuit is to showcase rural life, art, culture and heritage in villages, that have core competence in art and craft, handloom, textiles, natural environment and other specialities.