The entire MP State Cabinet seemed to be on ‘cruise mode’ on Tuesday when it took some important decisions while enjoying a boat ride on Indira Sagar lake at the scenic island of Hanumantiya in Khandwa district.
This was for the first time in history of Madhya Pradesh that a Cabinet meeting was held on a cruise.
With the entire exercise aimed at promoting the newly developed tourist spot, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan accompanied by more than a dozen of his cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats arrived in a Volvo bus - a departure from the cavalcade of vehicles with flashing beacon lights. The Cabinet meeting on Tuesday comes a few days ahead of the ‘Jal Mahotsav,’ a 10-day water sports extravaganza being organized by MP Tourism.
The cabinet meeting, which otherwise is a serious affair, seemed more like an outdoor picnic, as the ministers and bureaucrats were dressed in casuals and wearing sun glasses. Some ministers and bureaucrats were accompanied with their family members who, of course, did not take the cruise ride, but were seen having a good time at the tourist cottages.
While officials refused to give any figure of money spent on the event, sources said the government has spent around Rs 8 crores.
Arriving on a motor boat and dressed in a black pin stripped suit, state minister for food supplies and public distribution system, Vijay Shah was amongst the first to reach the venue. “We expect this newly developed spot to give a boost to the tourism in the region,” state minister for food supplies and public distribution system, Shah said.
“I decided to come on a motor boat from my constituency Harsud, which is around 45 kms from here,” he said. He was accompanied by his wife Bhavana Shah who is former mayor of Khandwa.
Next to arrive was chief secretary Antony DeSa. The chief secretary took a quick tour of the entire area along with his staff, and then took a break in one of the five cottages constructed at the tourist spot.
“All the cottages here will be housing ministers and their supporting staff so that they can get a feel of the tourist area and the ambience we have tried to create,” Khandwa sub-divisional magistrate Shashwat Sharma told HT.
The cabinet meeting lasted a few minutes over half-an-hour.
Almost all the ministers, including the chief minister, looked awed with the beauty of the island and were busy taking selfies. The chief minister also clicked selfies with the journalists on a motor boat after the Cabinet meeting got over.
Last minute preparations
A lot of last minute preparations were taking place even as the chief minister accompanied with his Cabinet colleagues arrived at Hanumantiya island. The preparations included leveling of roads and repainting of the boats.
Big tourist spot
The entire region is spread over 955 sq km and is home to 119 islands. The government has thrown it open to private players for building of resorts, amusement parks and launching water sports.
In an unusual gesture to welcome the chief minister and his contingent, the houses of Hanumantiya village were painted with beautiful tribal art and graffiti by the college students.