NATIONAL

Himachal inks $95.16 million loan agreement

The Himachal Pradesh Government on Wednesday inked a $95.16 million loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank to strengthen tourism infrastructure in the State under the Infrastructure Development Investment Programme for Tourism.

The agreement was signed here by State Principal Secretary (Tourism) Manisha Nanda and ADB officer in charge of India Resident Mission Prodyut Dutt. Project mission director and IAS officer Arun Sharma and senior Finance Ministry officers were among those present.

Under the agreement, the ADB will provide $95.16 million to the State for developing the tourism infrastructure. The period of the investment programme will be up to June 30, 2020.

Ms. Nanda said the State has already formed a State-level Empowered Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for implementation of the project.

Integrated approach

Dr. Sharma, who is also Director Tourism, said the USP of the project is a first-of-its-kind integrated approach to tourism development.

“The schemes have been conceived involving stakeholders, and the execution will also be overseen by the communities,” he added.

Dr. Sharma said the State's vast untapped tourism potential was the launching pad for providing employment and livelihood to around 15 per cent of the population. The loan would be used for utilisation of wet water body at Pong Dam giving a fillip to water sports, bird-watching activities and conservative efforts.

“The State received around 13 million tourists last year, and the growth is projected at around 20 per cent per annum,” he said. The investment programme will target enhanced economic growth and provision of livelihood opportunities for local communities through tourism infrastructure development.