Koraput, Sambalpur may get place in Swadesh Darshan 2.0

Sambalpur and Koraput may be included in the Ministry of Tourism’s revamped Swadesh Darshan scheme – Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD2.0) – which aims at developing destination tourism in the country.

The state department of Tourism has formed a 10-member steering committee to be headed by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, which will look into the guidelines and modalities of getting the districts included in the revamped scheme. Other members of the committee are higher officials of tourism, rural development, public works departments besides representatives of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha and Indian Association of Tour Operators, Odisha chapter, among others.

The first phase of the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 will kick off from January with two to three chosen destinations each from 15 states. The scheme aims at developing sustainable and responsible destinations with a tourist and destination-centric approach.

Although dotted with several tourist attractions including the Hirakud, one of world’s longest dams on the Mahanadi river, and Huma leaning temple, Sambalpur is less explored by both domestic and international tourists compared to coastal districts like Puri and Bhubaneswar.

Likewise, Koraput is known for its majestic hills, caves, culture and coffee. But in the absence of tourism infrastructure, the tourist footfall is minimal.Meanwhile, implementation of Swadesh Darshan scheme which was launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits, has been moving at a snail’s pace in the state.

Under it, a coastal circuit project that includes development of Gopalpur, Barkul, Satapada and Tampara is ongoing since 2016-17. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 70.82 crore for the project and allocated Rs 63.56 crore in the first phase. So far, Rs 52.95 crore has been spent on the project. Duration of the project was 24 months but so far, only 35 per cent of the work has been completed, as per the reports of the ministry.

Last year, the Tampara lake component was inaugurated by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.While officials of the Tourism department did not respond to TNIE query on progress of the coastal circuit project, Tourism Minister Ashwini Patra said he will look into it.Sources in the Tourism Ministry informed that Odisha had also submitted a concept proposal on its Buddhist circuit to it.

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