As many as 27 new sites have been identified for development under the government’s PRASHAD scheme, Union Minister of Tourism G. Kishan Reddy said this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on February 5.
He said 57 destinations have also been identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 scheme.
A total of 46 projects are sanctioned at a cost of Rs 1,631.93 crore and 76 projects are sanctioned at a cost of Rs 5,294.11 crore under PRASHAD and Swadesh Darshan schemes, respectively, the minister said.
Two major schemes
• Travel and tourism sector holds strategic importance in the Indian economy. It provides several socio-economic benefits such as employment, income and foreign exchange earnings and also plays a part in the development or expansion of other industries such as agriculture, construction, handicrafts, etc.
• Given the potential of tourism as a vehicle for job creation, growth and development, tourism has been recognised as an engine for economic growth.
• For tourism infrastructure creation in the country, the ministry of tourism has two major schemes, launched during 2014-15.
1) Swadesh Darshan: Integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
2) PRASHAD: Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive for development of tourism infrastructure in the country including historical places and heritage cities.
1) Swadesh Darshan
• The ministry of tourism launched Swadesh Darshan scheme in 2014-15 with a view to promote integrated development of thematic tourist circuits in the country.
• Its objective is to augment tourism facilities in the country thereby promoting culture and heritage of the country, enhancing tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner, creating awareness about the importance of tourism, creating employment through active involvement of local communities, etc.
Under the scheme, 15 thematic circuits have been identified for development.
i) North-East India Circuit
ii) Buddhist Circuit
iii) Himalayan Circuit
iv) Coastal Circuit
v) Krishna Circuit
vi) Desert Circuit
vii) Tribal Circuit
viii) Eco Circuit
ix) Wildlife Circuit
x) Rural Circuit
xi) Spiritual Circuit
xii) Ramayana Circuit
xiii) Heritage Circuit
xiv) Tirthankar Circuit
xv) Sufi Circuit.
• The ministry revamped the scheme as Swadesh Darshan 2.0 for development of sustainable and responsible tourist destinations.
• The objective of the scheme envisages increase in private sector investment in tourism & hospitality. It may help in increasing Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the field of tourism and operation and maintenance of the created assets under the scheme.
• A total of 76 projects have been sanctioned in various states/UTs under this scheme.
• The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme for continuation till March 31, 2026 for an amount of Rs 5,000 crore.
• In line with the scheme guidelines, the respective state/UT prepares State Perspective Plan and the ministry of tourism selects destinations for development accordingly.
• The ministry has notified 57 destinations in the country for development under Swadesh Darshan 2.0.
• The National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme was launched by the ministry of tourism as a Central Sector Scheme with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage destinations.
• The primary objective of the scheme is to develop tourism infrastructure at pilgrimage and heritage sites, ensuring a more enriching experience for pilgrims and heritage enthusiasts.
• In view of the decision taken by the government for closure of National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme of the ministry of housing and urban development and for inclusion of projects for development of heritage destinations in PRASAD, the scheme guidelines have been modified and the nomenclature of the scheme has also been changed from PRASAD to ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) in October 2017.
• Under the scheme, the ministry provides financial assistance to state governments and Union Territory administrations for the development of tourism infrastructure at these sites.
• A total of 46 projects have been sanctioned under the scheme at a cost of Rs. 1,631.93 crore.
• The scheme aims infrastructure development such as entry points (road, rail and water transport), last mile connectivity, basic tourism facilities like information/interpretation centers, ATM/money exchange, eco-friendly modes of transport, area lighting and illumination with renewable sources of energy, parking, drinking water, toilets, cloak room, waiting rooms, first aid centers, craft bazars/haats/souvenir shops/cafeteria, rain shelters, telecom facilities, internet connectivity, etc.