Setting a mission of one billion air trips a year, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assigned a mammoth task to the Indian aviation sector in Budget 2018-19. The minister also put forth government’s plans to develop monuments, build tunnels in Northeast India, bolster connectivity all across, and push sea planes and ropeways to boost tourism.
Tourism: A total of 10 prominent tourist sites will be upgraded as iconic tourist destinations; visitor experience at 110 model monuments under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to be enhanced; a tunnel to be constructed under the Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh; ropeways to be established as part of improving infrastructure.
Aviation: Airport capacity to be expanded by as much as five times to handle one billion trips per year. The government is in the process of developing 56 unserved airports and 37 helipads.
Railways: All stations with footfall of 25,000 passengers to now have escalators; all trains to be equipped with CCTVs and WiFi.
Infrastructure: An outlay of Rs 5.35 lakh crore announced in phase 1 for Bharatmala project, to connect India’s eastern and western ends with a 35,000 km highway and roads network; “pay as you use” system to be introduced for toll payments on highways; the government to spend Rs 14.34 trillion ($220 billion) on rural infrastructure, including building new roads and toilets and bringing electricity to millions of rural households.
EXCERPTS FROM THE SPEECH
“India is blessed with an abundance of tourist attractions. It is proposed to develop ten prominent tourist sites into Iconic Tourism destinations by following a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing. In addition, tourist amenities at 100 Adarsh monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India will be upgraded to enhance visitor experience.”
“To preserve and revitalize soul of the heritage cities in India, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) has been taken up in a major way.”
“I now propose to take up construction of tunnel under Sela Pass. For promoting tourism and emergency medical care, Government will make necessary framework for encouraging investment in sea plane activities.”