Himachal Government today signed loan agreement with Asian Development Bank for strengthening tourism infrastructure in the state under Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism.

The agreement was signed by Principal Secretary Tourism Manisha Nanda and Prodyut Dutt, Officer Incharge, India Resident Mission Asian Development Bank on behalf of respective parties. The senior officers of the Ministry of Finance, Asian Development Bank and Dr. Arun Sharma, Mission Director of the Project and other officers of Tourism Department were present on this occasion.

Manisha Nanda said that under the agreement Asian Bank Development will provide $ 95.16 million to the State for developing tourism infrastructure and the project will be 90:10 grant: loan as per the policy of the Union Government to Himachal Pradesh. The period of the Investment Program will be up to 30th June 2020 while the closing date for Project 1 is 30th June 2017.

Principal Secretary said that the State Government has notified a State-Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) as per the requirement of the A.D.B in February, 2011 under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, including Secretaries of relevant line departments and Director Tourism as its Member Secretary. The Principal Secretary, Tourism, is the Vice-Chairperson of the committee and the SLEC has been entrusted with the responsibility to provide overall advice and guidance including policy directions to the EA, and to accord all approvals for the Project. So far two meetings of the SLEC have been held on 10th February and 11th July 2011.

Manisha Nanda said that The Investment Program will target enhanced economic growth and provision of livelihood opportunities for local communities through tourism infrastructure development with a focus on preservation and development natural and cultural heritage and incidental services. The Investment Program will consists five components viz. (i) Urban Infrastructure and Service Improvement; (ii) Connectivity Improvement; (iii) Quality Enhancement of Natural and Cultural Attractions; (iv) Community-based Activities; and (v) Capacity Development, Community Participation and Project Management. Project Management Unit office has been set up at Shimla under the programme and core staff has also been appointed. Similarly, Project Management Unit & Project Implementation Unit will employ sufficient staff with adequate and relevant expertise and will be provided with necessary office space, facilities, equipment, support staff and Management Information System for the entire duration of the project by the State Government.

Dr. Arun Sharma Mission Director said that tourism in Himachal Pradesh at present contributes around 8% of the total GDP to the State and added that by the end of the project period it is likely to be doubled. The USP of the project is the first of its kind is the integrated approach to the tourism development of the State. The schemes under the infrastructure development were conceived by involving the Stake holders and the execution would also be over seen by the communities. Dr. Arun Sharma told that the State Government has allocated a sum of Rs. 10 Crore for the ADB project during the current financial year and out of this a sum of Rs. 8 crore is sanctioned for the civil works and Rs. 2 crore for other expenses such as salary, office expenditure etc. for the PMU and PIU.

Project Management Units supported by team of expert consultants would be the nodal agency for overall management of all program activities and will be responsible for: (i) project planning and budgeting; (ii) providing day-to-day assistance, supervision and guidance for the project implementation units (PIUs) and their consultants; (iii) reviewing subprojects as per the parameters of the A.D.B. Project Implementation Units ( PIUs) each headed by a Project Manager will be set up under the projects for the implementation and monitoring of subprojects .It will comprise of personnel drawn from relevant line departments and outside of government departments.

Dr. Arun Sharma Director Himachal Tourism told that about 11 officials at PMU Shimla and 3 officials for PIU Kangra have been deputed under the project and About 30 additional staff would be deployed at PMU Shimla and PIU Kangra. He told that the work under the project is progressing effectively as out of the 20 Sub – Projects of Tranche 1, 8 Sub- Projects have been bid out and out of the remaining 12 Sub- Projects, the SCRs of the four Sub- Projects have been prepared and rest of the SCRs are under preparation. Similarly, the process for appointing the Project Management Consultants (PMC) and Design and Supervision Consultants (DSC) is also at the final stage.