Thiruvananthapuram: The Sabarimala–Erumeli–Pamba–Sannidhanam heritage tourism project has made little progress over the last five years even after being included in the Central Tourism Department's Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
According to documents obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, no Central funds have been allotted to the project after 2016-17 and only 15.35 per cent of the work has been completed even though Sabarimala has much political as well as religious significance.
The Central Government had given administrative sanction for the project, which is aimed at development of the Sabarimala, in 2016-17 and set apart Rs 99.98 crore for the work. However, the Centre has transferred only Rs 19.99 crore to Kerala so far, says activist K Govindan Namboodiri, who filed the RTI petition. Meanwhile, Kerala Government has submitted a utilization certificate for Rs 19.70 crore to the Centre.
Sree Padmanabha Temple project
At the same, the Centre sanctioned Rs 73.77 crore of the Rs 92.21 crore Sree Padmanabha Temple– Aranmula–Sabarimala Heritage Tourism Project. For this project, Kerala submitted a certificate mentioning that Rs 58.76 crore was spent, which indicates a completion of 82 per cent.
Five projects for Kerala
Swadesh Darshan Scheme aims to develop tourism circuits with stress on India's cultural heritage. In Kerala, five circuits have been sanctioned between 2014 and 2021. They are, Gavi–Vagamon–Thekkady Ecotourism Circuit, Sabarimala–Erumeli–Pamba–Sannidhanam heritage tourism project, Sree Padmanabha Temple–Aranmula–Sabarimala Heritage Tourism Project, Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Circuit and Sivagiri Sree Narayana Guru Ashram Heritage Circuit. In addition, a Spiritual Tourism Circuit covers 133 centres in Kerala is also planned.
Of the five Swadesh projects, only the Gavi circuit has achieved 100 per cent success. The Malabar circuit has reached only 8.56 per cent completion.