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Gujarat Minister woos State?s tourists

EXTENDING AN invitation to visit her state, Gujarat Education and Child Development Minister Anandiben Patel dismissed the claim that the state was prone to riots and militant attacks.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 20:58 IST

EXTENDING AN invitation to visit her state, Gujarat Education and Child Development Minister Anandiben Patel dismissed the claim that the state was prone to riots and militant attacks. She said that the state was an abode of peace, which bounced back to life within three years after being devastated by a major earthquake.

“The number of foreign tourists has doubled in past two years. There is no reason for anyone to feel unsafe in Gujarat,” Patel declared at a ‘Meet the Press’ programme at Indore Press Club today. Citing examples to prove her point, she said that seven Muslim corporators joined BJP to help the party form the council in freshly conducted municipal elections held at Godhra.

“We are expecting participants from 70 countries in the Kite Festival that begins on January 13. This is against 40 countries that participated last year. The state has won four global awards in past four years - including the one from World Bank and UNESCO,” she added.

Responding to a query on Modi’s failure to fulfill promise of supplying power to Madhya Pradesh if BJP formed a government in the State, Anandiben said that her government would fulfill the promise once it meets the energy needs of its own people.

The Minister informed that Gujarat Government was making three-phase nonstop power supply to 13,000 villages under Jyoti Gram Yojana and about 6,000 villages remain to be covered. “We offer maximum subsidy on electricity for agricultural purposes. The state’s per capita energy consumptions is 1,175 units, which is double the national average of 592 units,” she informed.

To a query on the response she received from Gujarati families residing in Madhya Pradesh, Anandiben said that they had demanded a direct flight from Indore to Gujarat cities and additional railway compartment for trains heading towards her state.

To another question on protest by Jain community related to idols at Girnar, she said that the matter has been resolved through table talks with Shwetambar and Digamber Jain communities. “Though any idol unearthed belongs to government, we’ve told the two communities that they could worship them once they are placed in museums,” Anandiben said.

The 16-member delegation led by Anandiben is on five-day study tour of Madhya Pradesh to appraise itself of innovative public welfare schemes undertaken in the State that could be replicated in Gujarat, whose Chief Minister Narendra Modi has sent similar delegations to nine other states with special invitation to tourists. Gujarat Government has declared 2006 as the Tourist Year.

“We are here to extend special invitation to you to visit Gujarat. We have appealed to Gujarati families residing in Madhya Pradesh to send at least five non-Gujarati families to Gujarat,” Anandiben said. The invitation card carries the list of cultural festivals to be held at Gujarat this year.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 20:58 IST