Published On: Sun, Mar 1st, 2015

International Yoga Mahotsav begins in Rishikesh

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Rishikesh/Dehradun: Inaugurating the International Yoga Mahotsav, here, on Sunday, the Union Tourism & Civil Aviation Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma said that the identity of Rishikesh as the Capital of Yoga would be maintained. There was great potential for Tourism in Uttarakhand, the land of the Himalaya and Mother Ganga. India had a rich cultural legacy. Yoga was a unique contribution of India to Humanity.

Union Minister Dr Sharma underlined that Tourism could be given wings through Civil Aviation. Expressing agreement with the Chief Minister’s demand that Jolly Grant Airport be expanded, he said that considering the pressure of flights and other difficulties at Delhi Airport, the airport here could be used for parking and cargo handling.

Lamenting that only 0.64 percent of the world’s tourists came to India, Dr Sharma reminded that Rs 1.07 lakh crore worth of foreign exchange was earned from tourism. If even 1 percent of world tourism share was achieved, the share of Tourism in the GDP would go up to 9 percent. Normally, two years’ time was given for implementation of Central Schemes, but it was natural for delay in the reconstruction of Kedarnath owing to the geographic and weather conditions. As such, three years had been allowed for reconstruction of Kedarnath. The attempt would be made to extend this period to four years.

Chief Minister Harish Rawat lauded the role of the ‘rishi-munis’ and ‘yogacharyas’ in spreading the ancient knowledge of Yoga to every corner of the world. Rishikesh had established its identity as a Centre of Yoga. If the Union Government established a Yoga Institute, here, it would further boost the legacy.

Disclosing that the Uttarakhand Government was identifying a thousand schools in the urban areas to appoint part-time Yoga teachers, he said that, if anybody wished to establish a Yoga or Meditation Centre in the private sector, the state government would pay the salaries of 75 percent of the Yoga instructors in them. He added that the prospects of including Yoga Research Centres under the Vir Chandra Singh Garhwali Self-Employment Scheme woud be considered.

Stating that the Char Dham Yatra was the state’s highest priority, he expressed the hope that, at least, 75 percent of the pilgrims would return. Kedarnath was a symbol of the state’s resolve, with people working in -6 degrees temperature. Small bazaars would be developed that would sell the handicrafts and products of Uttarakhand. Visitors also needed to be acquainted with the culture of the state, therefore local fairs would also be associated with tourism.

The CM appealed to the Union Minister to upgrade Jolly Grant to the level of an international airport. There was also need to improve the landing facilities and infrastructure at Pantnagar Airport. A proposal had also been sent to develop an ‘Aastha Path’ along the Ganga in Rishikesh under the Namami Ganga project.

Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Dinesh Dhanai welcomed the guests and Yoga Practitioners from India and abroad. He revealed that as more thatn 350 delegates had come from abroad for the Yoga Festival that would run from 1 to 7 March. He promised that WiFi facilities would be provided in Mussoorie, Nainital and Ranikhet.

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