No fund allocation for Bihar Sikh circuit yet
A written reply by the minister of state for tourism, Sultan Ahmed, in the Rajya Sabha recently on the number of religious tourism circuits in Bihar, has stirred up a hornet’s nest. It made no mention of Sikh circuit in it.
Ahmed, replying to a question asked by Bashistha Narain Singh last Thursday, had said that a national level consultant appointed by the ministry of tourism has identified four circuits - Buddhist, Ramayan, Sufi and Jain - for integrated development in association with the state during the 12th plan period.
Among these, the Buddhist circuit would be developed in the first phase, while the others would be developed during the second phase under the current five-year plan.
“How could they leave out the Sikh circuit from the list? Like other religions, Bihar has a special place in Sikhism too,” said state tourism minister Sunil Kumar Pintu, alleging partisan approach by the Centre.
However, Pintu revealed, that the tourism ministry had earlier earmarked three circuits each for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Punjab at a meeting held on February 16, 2012. Each state was to get R3 crore per circuit, but Bihar and UP have not receiuved any support till date.
Pintu alleged , that “This is because Subodh Kant Sahay, the Union minister for tourism has refused to sign the decision taken at the meeting. After the question was raised by Singh in the Rajya Sabha, he hurriedly signed the allotment for Punjab, but Bihar and UP were put on hold,” said Pintu.
“In fact Bihar has got zero support from the Centre during 2011-12 and 2012-13. Already five months of this financial year are gone. If money is given towards the end of the year, how will we spend it? It may lapse without being utilized,” added Pintu.
The Bihar tourism minister said that the R3 crore per circuit is just peanuts. Every circuit involves several places and need development of many facilities along the way.
This in turn requires much more money than what the Centre has proposed to shell out. Meanwhile, the state tourism department has already started work on developing the Buddhist circuit. Work on other circuits is also to be started. The state government has also allotted R63 crore to the department under the supplementary budget, taking the total allotment to almost R100 crore for the financial year 2012-13.