Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said archaeologists and activists will not be allowed to stand in the way of the government as it seeks to develop tourism potential in the country. “Archaeologists will not complain if a wall (of old heritage structure) erodes away but if you put a coat of paint, they will question. There is no dearth of such ‘learned’ people in our government,” Gadkari said at a roadshow to get private investments for upgrading old lighthouses here. “We ministers are capable of silencing them. If such people come to us we will throw them out,” he said.
Shipping Ministry has decided to develop 78 of the total 189 lighthouses along India’s coastline into tourist attractions on a public-private partnership basis. Under the scheme, private parties can invest in upgrading the infrastructure and recover fee from tourists while sharing a part of the revenue with the government. Several lighthouses in Maharashtra and Goa – Sunk Rock, Kanhoji Island, Uttan Point, Korlai Fort, Jaigadh, Ratnagiri, Devgadh, Vengurla Rocks, Tolkeshwar Point, Fort Aguada and Sao George – are part of the project.
The minister who also handles road transport portfolio, acknowledged the lack of infrastructure in the country but promised to enhance facilities for tourism. Gadkari, who is credited for pushing ambitious projects like flyovers in Mumbai and the Mumbai-Pune expressway when he was PWD minister in Maharashtra, also expressed his annoyance with the activism which obstructs development.
“Some people convert problems into opportunities and some convert opportunities into problems,” he said, adding, he was at one point “fed up” because of such activism when he was a minister in Maharashtra.