New Delhi: The government has sanctioned more than Rs1,200 crore for the development of beaches and rivers as tourists spots, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Replying to a query, Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said that 11 projects, worth Rs896.66 crore, have been sanctioned under the coastal circuit of the ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’ and four projects, costing Rs119.27 crore, have been earmarked under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to harness the potential of beaches as a tourist attraction.

Goa is set to receive the highest payout of around Rs200 crore during financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18 to develop its beaches while Andhra Pradesh has been sanctioned Rs130 crore in FY 2014-2015 for its coastlines. Karnataka has been sanctioned Rs95.67 crore during 2016-2017 and West Bengal and Maharashtra have been sanctioned Rs85.39 crore and Rs82.17 crore, respectively during 2015-2016.

“The long coastline of India offers great potential for developing beach tourism. Coastal circuit which includes development of beach destinations is one of the 13 thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan scheme," Sharma said.

Rivers too, have found funds to make them attractive for tourists. The culture ministry has sanctioned Rs194.41 crore to five states—Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal—to develop their river fronts under the PRASAD scheme. Rivers like Prachi in Odisha, Krishna in Andhra Pradesh, Kapila, Hiranya and Gomti in Gujarat, Tamil Nadhu’s Palar and Vellaiyar rivers and West Bengal’s Hoogly have been chosen to be developed as tourist destinations.

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