CONCERN OVER OMISSION OF TOURISM SITES IN ODISHA FROM THE LIST OF 17 ICONIC TOURISM SITES
SHRI AMAR PATNAIK (Odisha):Sir, recently, 17 iconic tourism sites were announced to be developed into 'world class tourist destinations' and serve as exemplars for other sites. This would increase domestic and international tourists at these destinations. However, the lack of any site from Odisha is a stark omission. Tourism contributes 13 per cent of the State's GDP and requires a strategic boost. The vast array of significant sites in Odisha includes the Konark Sun Temple, which, built in the 13th century AD, is one of India's oldest UNESCO sites (since 1984). It is also one of the tallest temples ever built. Next, the Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udaygiri complex has the largest concentration of Buddhist remains in Odisha. Some monasteries date as far back as 1st century AD and were chronicled by the famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang during his visit to Kalinga. In its recent reply, the Tourism Ministry stated that primarily promotional activities had been undertaken for Odisha's Buddhist circuit. Development projects have been sanctioned for Buddhist sites in other States, but not in Odisha. Other sites include Chilika Lake (India's second largest Ramsar wetland), Bhitarkanika (one of the largest mangrove eco-systems in India) and Simlipal National Park. In July this year, the hon. Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture requesting, at least, two of the above mentioned sites be adopted into the list of 17 iconic sites. I demand that the Ministry should consider the inclusion of two such sites in its list for subsequent development.