The Government of India launched the PRASAD scheme in the year 2014-2015 under the Ministry of Tourism. The full form of the PRASAD scheme is ‘Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive’. This scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India for enriching the religious tourism experience. It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritised, planned and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience.
The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism. For tapping the potential of pilgrimage tourism, there is a need for holistic development of the selected pilgrimage destinations by the government along with the cooperation of other stakeholders. The PRASAD scheme aims at paving the way for the development and promotion of religious tourism in India.
Objectives of PRASAD Scheme
The objectives of the PRASAD scheme are as follows:
- Harness pilgrimage tourism for its multiplier and direct effect on employment generation and economic development.
- Follow pro-poor tourism concept and community-based development in the development of the pilgrimage destinations.
- Leveraging public expertise and capital.
- Enhance tourist attractiveness sustainably by developing world-class infrastructure in religious destinations.
- Create awareness amongst the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of improved living standards, increase in sources of income and overall development of the area.
- Promote local culture, arts, cuisine, handicrafts, etc., to generate livelihood in the identified places.
Functioning of PRASAD Scheme
The Ministry of Tourism has set up a Mission Directorate for implementing the PRASAD scheme. The Mission Directorate identifies projects in the identified cities and coordinates with the states/UTs and other stakeholders to implement this scheme.
A Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee is set up for sanctioning of the projects submitted by the Mission Directorate. A National Steering Committee is also constituted for the overall review, guidance and monitoring of this scheme.
The Central Government provides 100% funding for the project components undertaken for public funding. This scheme seeks to leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for improved sustainability of the projects under this scheme.
Eligible Components Under PRASAD Scheme
The eligible project components for receiving the Central Financial Assistance under the scheme are as follows:
- Infrastructure Development which includes-
- Development of passenger terminals such as rail, road, air and water transport.
- Tourism information/interpretation centres with ATMs or money exchange counters.
- Wayside amenities with emergency vehicle repair, breakdown and refuelling facilities.
- Directional/informatory signage.
- General improvements such as landscaping, earth filling, water fountains, lighting, fencing, pavements, garbage bins, seating/shelters, drinking water points, etc.
- External infrastructures such as sewerage, water supply, drainage, electricity and roads.
- Restoration, illumination and conservation of historic structures and monuments.
- First aid centres, toilet facility, waiting areas and cloak-rooms.
- Improvement in communication through telephone booths, mobile services, internet connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Capacity Development, Skill Development and Knowledge Management which include-
- Short duration skill development and training program under ‘Hunar Se Rozgar Tak’ and ‘Earn While You Learn’ programmes.
- Broadbasing of travel and hospitality education and training and engagement of Vocational Training Providers.
- Emphasis on tapping the local potential and expertise in arts and crafts.
- Documentation and preservation of the knowledge base in tourism for future use.
- Online Presence which includes-
- GIS-based interactive and intelligent portal development and mobile applications.
- Project management system.
- Permission-based knowledge portal.
- Data analysis and reporting.
The inadmissible project component for under the scheme that is not eligible to receive assistance are as follows:
- Land acquisition for development.
- Resettlement and rehabilitation package, operation, maintenance and management of the assets created.
- Improvement or investments in assets or structures owned by private entities.
Cities Identified Under PRASAD Scheme
The Ministry of Tourism identifies the pilgrimage destinations in consultation with the states and stakeholders. The following cities are identified under the PRASAD scheme:
- Amritsar (Punjab).
- Kedarnath (Uttarakhand).
- Mathura (Uttar Pradesh).
- Ajmer (Rajasthan).
- Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).
- Gaya (Bihar).
- Kamakhya (Assam).
- Dwaraka (Gujarat).
- Puri (Odisha).
- Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh).
- Kanchipuram(Tamil Nadu).
- Velankanni (Tamil Nadu).
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