Yr. of Tourism, Education & Infra

| 20 March 2001 17:37 IST

Goa has declared the current financial year as the Year of Infrastructure, Education and Tourism, making area-specific budget allocation to clear the bottlenecks and explore new areas in tune with the changing world scenario.

While announcing the new budget with massive resource mobilisation without taxing the common man to a large extent, chief minister Manohar Parrikar has allocated major chunk of it to these three sectors.

He has increased the plan outlay of both education and tourism by three folds, while constituting the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation "to act as the vehicle for fast track infrastructure projects in the state".

Though only Rs 26 crore has been provided in the budget for the state-owned infrastructure development company, Parrikar plans to rope in resources to the tune of Rs 500 crore to execute various works, either on BOOT or BOLT basis.

Besides roads and bridges, including improvement as well as new ones, it would take up several projects in the field of tourism, transport, education, sports as well as power on priority basis. The state is also constructing an international airport.

Pending an integrated tourism master plan which would be tabled in the monsoon session, the tourist state has decided to utilise the additional allocation for an effective media campaign throughout the world while installing GIS-based information kiosks in and outside the state, besides an interactive website.

In terms of eco-tourism projects, the BJP government plans to introduce river cruises by 20 to 25 seater boats through its navigable rivers right into the hinterland of the state from the coastal areas. It would be just not a pleasure trip but also sight seeing of new spots.

The budget has thus made specific allocation for developing turtle conservation beaches, butterfly parks, bird sanctuaries, hinterland lakes and waterfalls, archaeological sites, old magnificent houses, forts as well as other historical sites with proper facilities.

"Though Goa is the second highest literate state in the country with education reaching the most interior areas, I hope to begin the process of making this sector also a model for the entire country", states Parrikar.

Making specific budget provision, he has decided to equip almost all the schools in the state with computer laboratories armed with hardware and software requirements, while also providing basic facilities like libraries, proper buildings, toilets, drinking water as well as basic teaching equipment.

He has also devised a unique scheme for maintenance of aided schools with a plan to disburse loans to the tune of Rs 30 crore, which would be half share of the total cost and interest while the school would pay remaining half to the infrastructure corporation. "Its monthly instalment works out to as low as Rs 278 per lakh of rupees", he states.

While identifying six out of 11 talukas as less developed ones, Parrikar has also constituted advisory council for technical education under Prof. Mangesh Korgaonkar, a Goan heading the Sailesh Mehta Institute of Management in IIT, Mumbai.

Besides introducing post-graduate courses in the government pharmacy college, he has announced upgradation plans for professional faculties like engineering, polytechnics and architecture, giving equal stress on higher education.

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