Himachal needs to do more in tourism : Centre

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Shimla : The central government on Monday told the Himachal Pradesh government that it has failed to achieve optimum growth in the tourism sector across the hill state .


“Apart from Shimla and Manali the state needs to develop tourism in the entire state , particularly lesser known places like Kinnaur , Lahaul & Spiti ,” said Ashwani Kumar , union minister of state for planning , science & technology and earth sciences .


Kumar has been in Shimla holding meetings with the state chief minister P.K.Dhumal and top officials of the state for the last couple of days .


“If tourism develops evenly it has a trickle down effect on most others sectors ,” he said .


The planning minister also talked about setting up special economic zones(SEZs) in the state to promote non- polluting industries like information technology, pharma, bio-technology and the herbal industry so that more jobs are generated.


“We have already identified zones to be developed as SEZs,” he said .


Talking about the untapped hydro-power potential in the state he said the state needs to optimise this growth .


“Currently applications for 80 hydro power projects are awaiting environment clearance with the Centre . We have asked for a detailed report from the state so that these projects can be cleared .”


He cautioned the state government that even though it was making efforts to create education hubs , this should not be done at the cost of lowering the quality of higher education .


“In a state where 90 per cent of the people in jobs are employed by the government , tourism , industry  hydro power and other sectors need to grow and achieve a balance ,” said Kumar .


“Since majority of the population still lives in villages the state also needs to increase area under irrigation . To increase the agriculture base the irrigated area must go up substantially from the current 23 per cent ,” he said .


The minister said he would take up with the planning commission the finance commission recommendations as some of the allocations and liabilities have not been carried out properly .