Future of Kerala lies in the tourism sector: Minister

Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam on Sunday launched the Sivagiri spiritual tourism circuit with facilities like a craft bazaar, bus shelters and an audio-video virtual reality show and said that the future of Kerala lies in the tourism sector.

The inauguration of the much-hyped spiritual circuit around the Sivagiri Mutt near Thiruvananthapuram was marred by controversy as the state-central ministers sparred over the project.

While Alphons, the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, asked the state government to change its approach towards the Centre, State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that Kerala was 'ignored' in the project due to the involvement from certain quarters.

"This (state) government had given a comprehensive proposal of Rs 99.09 crore for development projects at Sivagiri Mutt and temples related to Sree Narayana Guru.

Just a few days before the sanctioning this amount, due to the involvement from certain quarters, the state government was ignored. The chief minister had criticised the same," Surendran said during his address in the event.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier written to the Prime Minister against the Centre's decision to inaugurate the spiritual circuit without consulting the state government.

The state government alleged that the Centre ignored its proposal to entrust the project with State Tourism Development Corporation.

At present the project has been undertaken by the India Tourism Development Corporation.

"The state's approach must change.We are now constructing walls around us. Instead of lighting lamps, people here are confining themselves inside the walls. This is a conservative thought process," Alphons said, in an apparent reference to the Women's wall initiative by the state government.

He, however, said that the state and the Centre should work together and praised Kerala's efforts in making the spiritual circuit around the Sivagiri Mutt a reality.