Maharashtra budget gives fillip to tourism
A cruise terminal at Ratnagiri in Konkan, developing a hill station at picturesque Jawhar in Palghar district, a policy to promote nature tourism and further development of popular hill stations Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are among the initiatives announced by deputy chief minister and finance minister Ajit Pawar to boost tourism in Maharashtra.
The state government has allocated ₹2,369 crore as a part of its push for tourism in the state budget 2021-22. Pawar said several tourism policies, including beach shack, agro-tourism, etc, have been announced by the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with an aim to generate employment and attract tourists. The budget also proposed a museum depicting the history of the state and a sugar museum in Pune.
While tabling the budget for 2021-22, the finance minister announced a cruise terminal at Ratnagiri’s Bhagwati port and construction of jetty in Raigad district, among other things. “Works to develop jetty for tourism at Kashid in Raigad district’s Murud taluka and to build cruise terminal at Bhagwati Port in Ratnagiri district have been undertaken,” Pawar said. He also added, “The government has announced agri-tourism policy to give a boost to agri business as well as rural economy in the state. The state’s beach shack and caravan tourism policies have been announced to provide employment opportunities to coastal local citizens and to attract tourists. The Maharashtra state nature tourism policy will be announced soon.”
There is also a plan to develop a hill station in the tribal-dominated Jawhar taluka of Palghar. “It has been decided to develop a hill station at Jawhar in the new tribal-dominated part of Palghar. We will also take up beach development works in the coastal belt of Palghar,” he said.
In addition, the state has decided to develop Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani and Lonar lake, for which the development plan has been finalised and “necessary funds are being made available”.
The budget also proposed a “path-breaking project” Sindhuratna Samruddha to harness the potential of nature by developing tourism, fisheries and micro industries in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. For this, ₹100 crore will be made available every year over the next three years. Bal Thackeray memorial, a proposed tourist attraction, has been given ₹400 crore.
The proposed construction of an international standard tourist complex on the 14-acre site at Worli Dairy complex in Mumbai, which was announced in the last budget, was also mentioned in this year’s speech. Pawar said, “Work is in progress to transfer the site and prepare a detailed project report for the development of the tourist complex.”
The cultural affairs department will undertake the construction of a museum to depict the history of Maharashtra. An outlay of ₹161 crore has been proposed for the department. The state has also proposed to construct a sugar museum in Pune at an estimated cost of ₹40 crore to showcase the development of sugar industry, sugar and allied industries.
The state has also taken up the task of conservation and preservation of ancient temples in the state. In the first phase of the project, eight temples, including Adishakti Ekveera Mata mandir in Karla of Pune — the family deity of the Thackerays, will be renovated.
Political analyst Hemant Desai said tourism outlays bore the stamp of Aaditya Thackeray, who heads the department. He said, “Tourism is hit the most due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the financial situation of the state, it is good that it has provided allocation to the department. It will help generate revenue and provide jobs when these projects materialise.”
Subhash Goyal, member of the Assocham tourism council and general secretary of Federation of Associations in Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), said, “Maharashtra is one of the few states that realised the multiplier effect that tourism development has in terms of job creation and revenue generation. Maharashtra has immense scope; and the tourism minister himself is very proactive in this regard. The state has 720-km coastline and can develop beaches with water sports, as adventure sport it restricted only to mountains currently. Scuba diving can also be developed.”