Special Correspondent

PUDUCHERRY: Minister for Tourism Malladi Krishna Rao on Wednesday has said that the Government will urge the Centre to earmark adequate land on lease to private entrepreneurs for promoting rural tourism in the Union Territory.

He told reporters here that the Government had powers only to give land up to 20 acres on lease, though private tourism promoters needed a minimum of 33 acres to avail themselves of bank loans. The issue would be taken up with the Central officials concerned during his two-day visit to New Delhi, he said.

He would also brief the officials of the tourism promotion activities such as proposals to set up a water sports complex at a cost of Rs.1.89 crore, establish an arts and crafts village at a cost of Rs.2 crore at Murungambakkam and construct beach resorts having facilities such as swimming pools and massage centres in seven acres at a cost of Rs.1.6 crore.

Even while pleading for Central assistance, the Government would try and generate funds through loan from the Puducherry Industrial Development, Promotion and Investment Corporation up to Rs.1.5 crore. A decision on the PIPDIC loan would be taken at its board meeting on September 17, he added.

As part of the beach beautification project, the 1.8 km-wall along the Puducherry beach would be developed by providing granite lining at a cost of Rs.39 lakh, Mr. Rao noted.

The Government would also seek financial assistance of Rs.45 crore from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for enhancing infrastructure in Puducherry and Oulgaret municipalities.

The Airport would become operational by June 2008 and though negotiations regarding the cost of land to be acquired from Tamil Nadu for the expansion project were on, 80-seater flights could operate at the airport on completion of the 265 metre runway.