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UP budget 2018: Govt announces special allocations to boost religious tourism

The new religious initiatives were proposed just ahead of the investors’ summit, during which the administration hopes to persuade investors to develop these religious places into top tourist spots.

lucknow Updated: Feb 16, 2018 20:32 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi Adityanath,Religious tourism,Ganga
The Yogi Adityanath government had earmarked Rs 1,240 crore in funds for the Ramayana, Buddhist and Krishna circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Yojana last year.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT Photo)

In an apparent bid to boost religious tourism in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has announced a special budgetary allocation for various upcoming religious circuits in the state.

The proposed projects – Mahabharata, Shakti Peeth, Jain and Sufi – will come up along with the Ramayana, Buddhist and Krishna circuits, for which budgetary allocations were made in the Adityanath government’s first budget last year, finance minister Rajesh Agarwal said after an hour-long speech in the UP assembly.

Agarwal began the budget presentation after invoking Lord Ram and Krishna, and signed off his speech with Vande Mataram.

The Yogi government had earmarked Rs 1,240 crore in funds last year for the Ramayana, Buddhist and Krishna circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Yojana. However, it has only set aside a token sum of Rs 70 crore for the new religious circuits that have been proposed.

Adityanath had marketed the Buddhist circuit – along with the Krishna and Ramayana projects – to the international audience during his visit to Myanmar last August. The government hopes that focusing on the state’s religious sites will encourage investment in the hospitality and transportation sectors, among others.

The religious push is timed just ahead of the investors’ summit, during which the administration hopes to persuade investors to develop these religious places into top tourist spots. “Once development happens, you will see investments. Yoga and wellness centres will come up too, along with other features,” an official said.

A separate allocation of Rs 100 crore has been set aside to boost religious tourism in Braj, for which the government has set up a tourism promotion board called the ‘Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad’, Agarwal said.

The chief minister and his council of ministers are expected to visit Barsana, the birthplace of Lord Krishna’s consort Radha, to play Holi this year. The move is aimed at converting such ancient pilgrimage points in the state into tourist hotspots.

Barsana has already been declared a religious spot by the Yogi government, and the government has now set aside Rs 10 crore for events such as Deepotsav and Holi celebrations there.

Adityanath had spent Diwali eve in Ayodhya before visiting Gorakhpur for the main event. His government has already elevated the twin cities of Faizabad-Ayodhya and Mathura-Vrindavan to municipal corporations.

Last year, the administration had earmarked Rs 20 crore for constructing the Kailash Mansrovar Bhavan in Ghaziabad. This time, it has set aside another Rs 94.26 crore for building the Kailash Mansarovar Bhawan. The building, slated to come up near Hindon bridge in Ghaziabad, will provide better facilities to pilgrims heading for the Kailash Mansarovar, Sindhu Darshan, Amarnath Yatra and Char Dham pilgrimages.

The government has also set aside Rs 1,500 crore for organising the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Allahabad in 2019. It has, however, decided to rename the Ardh Kumbh (held every six years) as Kumbh, and the Kumbh (held every 12 years) as the Mahakumbh.

The Yogi government has been aggressively marketing the event, which would be held around the time of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Justifying government’s focus on the Kumbh Mela, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said: “Monetary allocation for the grand event was made even by the Mughals. I fail to understand why some feel it is being overdone.”

The Yogi government has also set aside Rs 240 crore as the state’s share for various schemes under the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 20:29 IST