New Delhi: Unregulated tourism activities at several tourist spots, including some heritage sites in the country, are adversely affecting the ecological balance in those places, a Parliamentary Committee has said.
The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture recommended that under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), major corporates may be “compelled” to adopt heritage sites for their upkeep.
It said that if proper values regarding the indigenous people and environment are followed and road and rail network is put in place, the industry may grow in a healthy way.
“It is also necessary that things are not done hazardously and these will not misbalance the nature in the name of tourism development,” observed the committee in its report tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
It also asked the Tourism Ministry to update it on the steps taken to preserve the ecological balance at the tourist sites.
The Committee said many of the key monuments, even those under the control of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), are without basic amenities like clean drinking water, toilet, interpretation centres, cleanliness, etc.
It said that it was informed that the government has taken an initiative called ‘Adopt a Heritage’ to address deficiencies in the sector.
Describing the initiative as a welcome step on part of the Tourism Ministry, the committee said, “There is no expenditure outflow from the Budget for the initiative.”
While suggesting that corporates adopt heritage sites, the committee said detailed plans for improvement of infrastructure and basic amenities have to be laid down by the Ministry or government agencies and it should not be left at the discretion of the organisation which is adopting the heritage sites.
“Experience and experimentation in the initial two or three projects will make all the difference in planning for future projects that the ministry will take up for development,” it said.
“The committee also feels that to make a project a world-class experience, benchmarking is a must,” the report added.
Responding to the committee’s observation, the Tourism Ministry said the project ‘Adopt a Heritage: ApniDharohar, ApniPehchaan’ is “voluntary in nature and the stakeholders cannot be compelled to adopt the tourist/heritage sites.”
It said the project is a collaborate effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and ASI and State/UT governments and aims at developing synergy amongst all partners to effectively promote “responsible tourism”.
“It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India,” the ministry told the committee.