LINKING RURAL ECONOMY WITH TOURISM
Khajurao is a unique thousand year old heritage temple complex in Madhya Pradesh. In the context of its millennium celebrations, a study on linking tourism development with rejuvenation of the villages around was recently jointly undertaken by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage and Development Alternatives. Development Alternatives studied the mini-catchment around the temple complex, while INTACH addressed the heritage component including the landscape around the temple environs. The promoters of the Chandela hotel group who triggered tourism development in Khajurao provided tourism inputs.
Development Alternatives identified 42 villages reaching up to the river Ken as constituting a mini-catchment. It procured satellite imagery maps of this region from the Department of Space and studied them from the angle of sustainable development. It recommended forestry and agro forestry in the villages on higher levels and identified several locations for constructing water conservation structures between the temple complex and the river. After these measures have been taken, there would be enough water to sustain twice the tourism than at present, enable the farmers to grow vegetables to support the hotel industry and strengthen the rural economy. Cycle tracks linking the temple complex with the river through the water bodies thus created, will promote extended nature tourism and tourism-related economic benefits to the local community. Thus the development of the local community would get integrated with the development of tourism.
When these proposals were presented before the President of India, his comment was that such planning should be undertaken for the entire country! The fact is that Article 243ZD on district planning introduced through the 74th Constitution Amendment has made such scientific regional planning mandatory. The local governments are required to prepare such draft urban and regional plans that will be negotiated and consolidated by the district planning committee as draft district plans for coordination and approval by the state government.
Violating these constitutional requirements, the union and state governments are still pursuing unscientific, wasteful centralised planning and imposing pre-conceived schemes such as Nehru Rozgar and India Awas Yojna on local governments. The reason obviously is that the legislators do not want to let go their stranglehold over local allocations. They have even sanctioned themselves Rs 2 crores each annually for local programmes, a clear violation of local jurisdictions.
According to the scheme of the Constitution, the union and state governments should deal with union and state issues and legislation while local governments should have jurisdiction over local matters. However, neglecting higher level issues and legislation, legislators misdirect attention of the house to local matters leading to hooliganism. They have even made themselves ex-office members on local councils --- a serious abuse of authority.