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Manipur mulls tourism plan

Imphal, Sept. 27: The Okram Ibobi Singh government is preparing a masterplan to turn Manipur into a tourist hub by developing tourism infrastructure in the state.

But the government is apprehensive that the prevailing law and order might be a hindrance in attracting tourists in large numbers.

Ibobi Singh asked tourism commissioner Rajesh Kumar to unveil the masterplan during the World Tourism Day function organised here today by the state tourism department.

Kumar said 11 projects, including three mega-projects, to develop tourist spots had been cleared by the government and the detailed project reports would be submitted to the Centre very soon.

The projects will be taken up on a public-private-partnership model under a new tourism policy, which is being finalised. The three mega-projects will comprise development of Kheba hillock and Kaina temple complex in Thoubal district and Lord Marjing temple complex on Heingang hill in Imphal East.

Kheba hillock is situated within Khongjom war memorial complex where Manipuris fought the last battle of freedom with the British in 1891.

Manipur’s most famous Rasalila has its roots in Kaina hill. It is believed Lord Marjing introduced the game of polo first in Manipur.

“The tourism development projects would be eco-friendly and solar energy would be used,” the commissioner said.

The state government is also working to improve Loktak lake and Indian National Army (INA) complex, both in Bishnupur district.

The INA complex was the first place where INA soldiers hoisted the Tricolour in 1944.

Ibobi Singh said tourists were staying away because of the trouble in the state.

“Forget about tourists, investors are not willing to come to Manipur to invest in view of the prevailing law and order. Poor law and order is keeping tourists away. Therefore, until and unless there is peace in Manipur, no one will come to the state,” Ibobi Singh said.

He said no big industry was viable in Manipur and tourism was the only source for employment and income generation.

“We all should sit together and resolve all differences. Unless there is peace, Manipur will be lagging behind not only in the tourism sector but on all fronts,” Ibobi Singh said.

Stating that his government was giving top priority to law and order, the chief minister renewed his appeal to investors to participate in infrastructure development in the tourism sector.

Earlier, economist N. Mohendro and teacher of Manipur Institute of Management Studies, Ch. Ibohal, said a clear tourism policy was the prerequisite for serious development of the tourism industry.