Tourism Ministry has sanctioned outlay of Rs. 6438 crore for two flagship schemes

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KJ Alphons, Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Tourism is spearheading two flagship programmes – One is Swadesh Darshan with a sanctioned outlay of Rs. 5,711 crore and the other is Prasad, which has an outlay of Rs, 727 crore.

under the Swadeh Darshan scheme, 69 projects have been sanctioned while 24 schemes have been sanctioned under Prasad.

The total outlay for development works under the Ministry for Tourism in the current financial year is Rs. 1,320 crore.

For North East, eight projects with an outlay of Rs.723 crore have been sanctioned. Under tribal scheme theme, four projects worth of Rs.381 crore, under Buddhist theme, five projects worth of Rs.362 crore and under eco-tourism project,five projects worth of Rs. 461 crore have been sanctioned. Under coastal theme, the Ministry has cleared 11 projects worth of Rs.896 crore.

This information was given by K.J. Alphons, Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) in Parliament (Lok Sabha) on 30 July 2018.

The Minister told the House that cruise tourism is being promoted very strongly. Projects worth Rs. 106 crore have been sanctioned over the last few years and many of them have been completed. These include Cochin, Chennai and Goa ports. In Mumbai port, projects worth Rs. 300 crore have been sanctioned.

Further Alphons told the Lok Sabha that the Ministry of Shipping is putting in Rs. 197 crore and the rest is going to come from the private sector. In Cochin, Rs. 21.43 crore worth of project is for a new cruise terminal which can berth big cruise ships and it is going on.

The Ministry of Tourism runs 42 institutes of hotel management, out of which 21 are under the Central Government and 21 are under the State Governments.

The Tourism Ministry also spends huge funds on publicity. This year, there is a budgetary provision for Rs. 450 crore for overseas publicity and Rs. 135 crore for publicity domestically.

Swadesh Darshan scheme has a vision to develop theme based tourist circuits on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.

Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme thematic circuits have been identified for development. These include the North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit,
Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit & Sufi Circuit.

Under PRASHAD scheme, sites of religious significance have been identified for development in India.  These are Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Amritsar (Punjab), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Badrinath (Uttarakhand), Dwarka (Gujarat), Deoghar (Jharkhand), Belur (West Bengal), Gaya (Bihar), Guruvayoor (Kerala), Hazratbal (Jammu & Kashmir), Kamakhya (Assam), Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), Katra (Jammu & Kashmir), Kedarnath (Uttarakhand), Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Puri (Odisha), Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Somnath (Gujarat), Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar (Maharashtra), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Vellankani (Tamil Nadu).

Defence contracts worth Rs.1190 billion signed with Indian vendors in last 4 years

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New Delhi: Confronted with a raging controversy over the Rafale deal and more particularly questions raised by Congress President Rahul Gandhi in this regard as well as his latest jibe vis-a-vis Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, the Key offset partner with Dessault Aviation for 36 Rafale Aircraft worth Rs. 30000 crore being acquired for the Indian Air Force, the Government of India told Parliament today that In the last four financial years i.e. from 2014-15 to 2017-18, 128 contracts worth Rs. 1190 billion (Rs.119000 Crore) have been signed with Indian vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment.

In the last four financial years – from 2014-15 to 2017-18, Government of India has also accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to 151 proposals, worth Rs. 2667 billion (Rs.2,66,700 Crore) approximately under ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ or ‘Make’ categories of capital procurement as per Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which implies that Request for Proposal (RFP) shall be issued only to Indian Vendors.

This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre in a written reply to Manish Gupta in Rajya Sabha today )30 July 2018). He told the House that ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, is primarily driven by capital acquisition of defence equipment and other policy measures.

The Minister said in his reply that DPP stipulates a time schedule for completion of the procurement cycle. The time taken to undertake capital procurement of defence equipment depends on the nature and complexity of the equipment being procured. Nonetheless, under the DPP-2016 Government has laid down further provisions for ensuring swift decision making in defence procurement. In addition, all the procurement schemes are regularly reviewed and prioritized on the basis of critical operational needs of the Armed Forces.

In the Budget Speech 2018, the Government announced that it will bring out an industry friendly Defence Production Policy-2018 to promote domestic production by public sector, private sector and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

A draft Defence Production Policy-2018 has been prepared which provides a focused, structured and significant thrust to development of defence design and production capabilities in the country. The draft policy has been shared with all concerned stakeholders for their views before its approval and final notification.


Ceasefire violations and cross-border terrorism: The death toll mounts

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New Delhi: Sixty-three persons were killed, including 40 civilians and 23 security personnel, in ceasefire violations and cross-border terrorism in the year 2017 while there were 22 casualties in 2016 and 21 and 2015.

This information was given by India’s Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre in a written reply to Ram Kumar Kashyap in Rajya Sabha today (30 July 2018).

The Minister told the House that based on specific and credible inputs about terrorist teams having positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other States, the Indian Army carries out operations to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists.

Cross Border Infiltrations

Details of Battle Casualties (Fatal) and (Non-Fatal) in CFVs/Infiltration by terrorists:

            Battle Casualties (Fatal):

Year Officers JCOs ORs
2015 00 01 03
2016 00 00 07
2017 01 03 19

Battle Casualties (Non-Fatal):

Year Officers JCOs ORs
2015 00 00 11
2016 02 02 35
2017 00 03 31

Details of civilians Killed / Injured during last three years in the above activities.

Year Killed Injured
2015 17 70
2016 15 66
2017 40 99

Details of Battle Casualties (Fatal) and (Non-Fatal) in terrorist activities during last three years:

Battle Casualties (Fatal):

Year Officers JCOs ORs
2015 02 02 46
2016 06 02 57
2017 05 03 31

Battle Casualties (Non-Fatal):

Year Officers JCOs ORs
2015 09 05 35
2016 05 02 78
2017 16 05 79

Details of ex gratia lump sum compensation being paid to the Next of Kin (NoK) of Defence personnel are as under:-

S. No. Details w.e.f. 01/01/2006 w.e.f. 01/10/2016
  1. Death in the course of duties attributable to acts of violence by terrorists, etc. Rs. 10 lakh Rs.25 lakh
  2. Death occurring during enemy action in war or border skirmishes or in action against   militants, terrorists, etc. Rs.15 lakh Rs.35 lakh
  3. Army Group Insurance Fund Upto 30/09/16 w.e.f. 01/10/16
Officers Rs. 60 lakh Rs.75 lakh
JCOs/Other Ranks Rs.30 lakh Rs.37.5 lakh

Rs. 40 lakhs

(w.e.f. 1.1.18)

4. (a) Liberalised Family Pension as applicable to Battle casualty which is equal to emoluments last drawn by the deceased individual.

(b)  Death-cum-Retirement Gratuity which is based on length of service rendered and emoluments such drawn by the deceased individual.

International Tiger Day: My heart weeps for Tigers

निर्वनॊ वध्यते वयाघ्रॊ निर्व्याघ्रं छिद्यते वनम

तस्माद वयाघ्रॊ वनं रक्षेद वनं वयाघ्रं च पालयेत।।

Tiger out of the woods, is easily slain; the wood also, that is without a tiger, is easily cut down. Therefore, it is the tiger that protects the forest and the forest that shelters the tiger.” – Mahabharata

Lalit Shastri

Contrary to the letter and spirit of the law of nature depicting the symbiotoc relationship between forest and the tiger spelled out so succinctly in the Mahabharata, we have a situation where about 19 million acres of forest land has been distributed in a short time under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, also called the Forest Rights Act, that provides for giving forest rights across India, including both individual rights to cultivated land in forestland and community rights over common property resources to tribals and other forest dwellers. One can imagine the magnitude of the crisis and the havoc caused to our forest wealth following the enactment of the Forest Rights Act by appreciating that each acre of forest land that has been parcelled out to the people, on an average, had about 35 to 40 trees, of course depending upon the site quality.

It is a pity and a shame for humanity – the way the tiger population has dwindled over the years. All are aware how poachers keep striking at will. The tiger habitat has been methodically encroached – an activity diabolically supported by politicians to win votes and stay riveted to power. Whatever remains of the tiger habitat is being plundered by the mining mafia and illegal fellers or else the so-called stakeholders who are robbing the forests and the entire biodiversity base through reckless grazing and minor forest produce collection. Let us go back a few years. By 2009, the last of the Panna tigers had vanished. It is an entirely a different matter that after a few years of relocating and breeding under controlled conditions, the Panna Tiger Reserve is again boasting of tiger numbers. There is no reason to be proud of Panna re-population progrmme because the idea is not to breed tigers under controlled conditions but to ensure the forests and their corridors are protected to such an extent that there is minimum man-animal conflict and tigers are left with the necessary privacy and prey base to ensure they breed and thrive in their natural surrounding.

Corporate social Responsibility

School students in Bhopal are coming under the umbrella of Young CREW for Tigers, which is part of the Conservation Awareness Programme launched by CREW, a not-for-profit organisation. CREW is spearheading the programme aimed at building a movement for tiger protection and wildlife conservation. It was an important milestone in this direction when a team of Young CREW for Tigers met Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his official chamber in the state Assembly on March 12, 2013. On this occasion, the children gave the message: “Bagh hai to jungle hai, jungle ha to jal hai, jal hai to jeevan hai.” ( if the tiger is safe, the forest is safe, if the forest is there, there is water and where there is water, there is life). This was greatly appreciated by the Chief Minister. As part of CREW’s partnership with Sanctuary Asia and its Kids for Tigers programme, CREW’s young brigade also presented the Chief Minister a banner with the slogan “Save our Tigers”.

School children had met Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singgh Chouhan and presented him a “Kids for Tigers” banner of the

During this meeting, the chief minister had blessed the students emphasising the importance of conservation and sustainable approach towards life. He had also conveyed his best wishes for the success of the Young CREW for Tigers initiative and the Kids for Tigers programme. The children had used this meeting as an opportunity to present to the Chief Minister a poster of Kids for Tigers programme and an illustrated booklet on Pench Tiger Reserve titled “Glory that is Mowgliland“, published by CREW [ Click here for Glory that is Mowgliland in digital format ]

It’s more than just sad the way tigers are perishing or getting killed….I’m horrified by the fact that most of those who can act have abdicated their responsibility….Instead they are busy counting their gains and falling to greater depths on being doled out lavish sinecures and positions that matter. By paying lip service to combat Wildlife crime and by going all out to allow reckless cattle grazing, logging, minor forest produce collection, mining and encroachment of forest land, they are thriving and at the same time driving the last nail in the coffin of this majestic specie.

It is time the world sits straight….the tiger crisis is only drawing lip service…the tiger habitat is not only shrinking…it is being raided day in and day out by tourists besides poachers…what to talk of immense biotic pressure aggravated by population pressure…The forest in the catchment of our rivers are getting denuded at a rapid pace. For example the destruction of forests in the catchment of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh has touched alarming levels. Consequently, the rivers and tributaries in this landscape do not remain charged all the year round through the natural process of percolation of rain water and gradual release of water through streams and rivulets. No wonder, the grand Narmada is no longer perennial. As the slopes across the Central Indian highlands are becoming barren, there is too much of silting through runoff that reduces the carrying capacity of our rivers. Hence, when monsoon arrives there are flash floods as too much of water flows into the rivers in too short a time thereby leaving the rivers thin, lean or dry for remaining part of the year.

4 June 2015 was a Black Day for ecology, green cover and forests as on this day the Madhya Pradesh Government issued two extraordinary gazette notifications to bring in force the “Madhya Pradesh Protected Forest Rules, 2015” (Under these rules “Protected area” has the same meaning as assigned to it under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972) and the “Madhya Pradesh Village Forest Rules, 2015”. These rules will sound the death knell for forests and the already threatened wildlife. [ Check: What will be the state of the forests in Madhya Pradesh after a few years? ]

Large-scale land use change has become a common practice leading to massive depletion of forest wealth. In Central Indian landscape that can be called the water capital of this country, the forests that stretch across the undulating slopes and ridges of the Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges that form a massive watershed and provide the passage to the Narmada river and its tributaries to flow have continued to face immense biotic pressure due to a horde of factors that are not being addressed in totality.

I am not interested in tiger numbers. I am only interested in the safety of tigers in their natural habitat. I am only interested in preserving the core, the buffers and corridors and keeping them free from poachers, illegal mining activity, reckless logging and exploitation of natural resources. The factors threatening the forests are too many. Today the tiger that sits on the apex of the biotic pyramid is gravely threatened. It would be a crime against the most majestic of all species if we remain mute spectators and allow the politicians and their bureaucratic arm to destroy and devastate our forests and wildlife. My heart weeps for the vanishing stripes…….