Tourism lures as Maha beckons people to become ‘sairat’

With an eye on generating employment and unshackling tourism in the Covid-19 pandemic ravages, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar has given a booster dose to tourism in the Budget 2021-2022.

Virtually luring people to let their hair down and hit the roads, Pawar’s highlights are: Developing a new hill-station, an international class tourist complex, a new boat jetty, a cruise terminal, development of beaches, hill-resorts, museums, safaris, historical and pilgrimage centres.

Pawar has allocated Rs 2,369 crore with a slew of initiatives intended to create more jobs and tempt people out of homes to tourist destinations, after three whole tourism seasons of 2020 were gobbled away by Covid-19 lockdowns.

Barely two hours from Mumbai, Jawhar is a little-known tiny hillstation nestled on a plateau in Palghar, with a salubrious climate, deep valleys, lush-green hills with unexplored waterfalls, thick forests and famed for its Warli tribal art paintings, which is proposed to be developed majorly for tourism.

It is one of the few tribal kingdoms in the state offering an insight into the tribal way of life besides its eye-catching natural beauty and unseen hidden delights dotting the region.

Palghar also has several good beaches like Arnala, Kelva, the 17-km long Dahanu-Bordi, besides at least 8 beach or hill forts, the famed hill-top Jivdani Temple, ancient churches and mosques.

Another pleasant announcement for Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray was plan for an international class tourist complex which will come up on a 14-acre site at the Worli Dairy in Mumbai for which a detailed project report is being prepared.

On the sea-front plans for the state’s 720-km long coastline, Pawar said that a tourist jetty will come up at Kashid Beach, Raigad, a cruise terminal at Bhagwati Port, Ratnagiri which would complement the state’s beach shack, caravan and agri-tourism policies announced last year, with a new Nature Tourism policy coming up soon.

As part of a Rs 101 crore refurbishment and conservation of ancient temples around the state, the state will take up 8 temples in phases, like the Goddess Ekvira Mata Temple near Karla in Pune, which is also the family deity of the Thackeray clan.

The others will be Khandoba Temple in Aurangabad, Gondeshwar Temple in Nashik, Aanadeshwar Temple in Amravati, Kopeshwar Temple in Kolhapur, Shiv Temple in Gadhiroli’s Markanda, Purushottam Temple in Beed, and Dhuppadeshwar Temple in Ratnagiri.

A Rs 162.50 crore project is underway to develop the Gandhi Sevagram Ashram in Wardha, where the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi spent several years of his life.

In October last year, the government decided to set the ball rolling for including Gandhi Sevagram Ashram in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it the first such proposal for any Gandhiji-related monument in the world to be accorded the coveted status.

Pawar said the state will develop the Lonar Lake in Buldhana for which the plan was finalized recently by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visiting the site last month, besides boosting facilities in Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani hill stations in Satara.

The state proposes a path-breaking project to harness the potential of nature tourism, fisheries, micro-industries in the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg districts at a cost of Rs 100 crore per annum over the next three years.

The Hindu HridaySamrat Bal Thackeray Memorial in Mumbai, a proposed tourist attraction has been allocated Rs 400 crore, the Culture Departments will construct a Maharashtra history museum for which Rs 161 crore has been sanctioned, besides a Sugar Museum in Pune at a cost of Rs 40 crore to showcase the history, development and importance of this critical industry.

“Tourism is the worst-hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the financial status of the state, it’s good that it has got allocation which will help generate revenue and create jobs as the projects come up,” said Aditya Thackeray.

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