Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal approved a multi-crore heritage rejuvenation plan for the holy city to turn it into the number one tourist destination of South-East Asia and the gateway from Attari border to India.
He gave the nod to the conceptual plan at a joint presentation given here on Thursday by urban development, local government, Amritsar municipal corporation and tourism department.
Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, industry and commerce minister Anil Joshi, MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and all local MLAs were present on the occasion.
It was decided that for coordinated development of the city, the deputy chief minister himself would head the newly established Metropolitan Council of Amritsar that would oversee and monitor the time-bound execution and implementation of all projects, in sync with the heritage so that the holy city did not lose its original character.
The meeting approved the upgrade of Attari Tourist Reception Centre coupled with a restaurant, food plaza, open air theatre and multi-level parking to facilitate the tourists. Sukhbir asked the tourism department to finalise a laser show so that tourists after retreat ceremony at the border could stay back, enjoy the laser show and cultural programme and return only after dinner.
Expressing concern over the slow execution of the Gobindgarh Fort project being financed by the ADB, he asked the tourism department to complete the project within the next 12 months. He said if possible, the project should be developed and run by only one agency having international experience. He later also visited the fort for an on-the-spot review of the project.
Reviewing the Golden Temple Plaza construction progress, he said while executing the project, the government would work out its upkeep and maintenance by a professional agency.
Approving the conceptual plan of the Town Hall project, he said that while making use of this building, the external facade of the building must be preserved.
Approving the upkeep of the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital building, the deputy chief minister said the heritage concept of the building must be preserved. He also approved the conceptual plan for Ram Bagh and the Heritage Village being constructed on the Guru Nanak Dev University campus.
Sukhbir said the Punjab government would approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the immediate sanction of Maglev train between Amritsar and Delhi or extending the Delhi-Chandigarh train already approved to Amritsar.
He also gave his approval to redevelopment of approach to Sri Harmandir Sahib that would give unique identity to this route.
Prominent among those present at the meeting included principal tourism secretary Geetika Kalha, local government principal secretary Suresh Kumar, principal secretary to deputy chief minister PS Aujla, special principal secretary to deputy chief minister Manvesh Singh Sidhu and other senior officers of various departments.