31 July :Shri S. Banerjee, Secretary (Tourism) along with Shri E.K. Bharat Bhushan, Joint Secretary & Financial Advisor and Smt. Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary made a site visit on 24-25 July, 2008 to review the progress of Ajanta Ellora Conservation & Tourism Development Project, Phase II being funded with loan assistance from JBIC.
The Phase II Project is in continuation of the Phase I which was successfully implemented with ODA assistance to enhance the tourism potential of Ajanta Ellora. The Ministry of Tourism is the Executing Agency of the project and oversees the implementation of various works being undertaken as part of the project by the implementing agencies which include Airport authority of India, Archaeological Survey of India and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.
The second phase of the project covers restoration of Ajanta Ellora Caves and other monuments in Aurangabad city which include Bibi Ka Maqbara, Pitalkhora Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Patnadevi Temple etc. The works to be carried out at these places include structural reinforcement, chemical conservation of the paintings, upgrading the environment and improvement of visitor management systems.
The up gradation of Aurangabad Airport is an important component of the project. The up gradation works at the Aurangabad work are expected to be completed before the end of this year. After the completion of the up gradation works, wide bodied air crafts would be able to land at Aurangabad Airport. The new integrated terminal building would have new state of art facilities for the convenience of the travelers and to handle increase passenger traffic. This would significantly boost the international tourist traffic to the region.
As part of the project, construction of Visitor Management Centres at Ajanta and Ellora are also being undertaken. Apart from the construction of buildings, the Visitor Centres would include multi-media exhibition works and facilities for the tourists visiting Ajanta Ellora Caves. These visitor Centres have been designed to give the tourists a unique experience and information about historical, cultural importance of the Ajanta Ellora Cave Complexes which have been accorded ‘World Heritage Site’ status by UNESCO.
Aforestation of land in Ajanta Ellora region is also being undertaken as part of the above project. This would help in improving vegetation cover and prevent soil erosion as well as reduce pollution in the vicinity of the caves to give an enhanced tourism experience to the travelers.
Human Resource Development, Improvement of Roads, Water Supply at Tourists Attractions, Computerization of Tourist Information, Public Awareness Activities are some of the other works being undertaken as part of the Ajanta Ellora Conservation and Tourism Development Project, Phase II.
Apart from the ongoing project, development of infrastructural facilities at Aurangabad and other surrounding sites would be further augmented as it has also been identified as ‘Mega Tourism Destination’ to be developed in near future with Central Financial Assistance. Taking into account the importance of Aurangabad as a hub for cultural and spiritual tourism Ministry of Tourism would be organizing a ‘Shopping Festival’ in Aurangabad to showcase the handicrafts from this region.
The completion of Ajanta Ellora Project and other initiatives would enhance the experience of tourists and would facilitate growth of tourism in the region.