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Anantapur: Tourist potential of Puttaparthi township needs to be tapped
- Even though the town was a destination for Prime Ministers and Presidents of the country but neither the successive Central and state governments had ever evinced interest in taking advantage of town's international stature
- MLA Sridhar says the Piligrim town will be developed on the lines of Icon City in Mantralaya
Anantapur: The beautiful spiritual township Puttaparthi shot to International fame when Sathya Sai Baba was alive. Hundreds of foreign devotees of Baba visited the town and as a result, a lot of infrastructure was developed both by the Sathya Sai Central Trust as well as private stakeholders, who viewed the town as having a great potential for tourism development.
Even though the town was a destination for Prime Ministers and Presidents of the country but neither the successive Central and state governments had ever evinced interest in taking advantage of town's international stature. After the advent of new government in 2019 in the state, at the district collector's level there was an initiative to make some beginning in this regard and several departments had been roped in and a committee was formed with the officers and MLA Sridhar with an announcement of Rs1,000 crore development and investment plan with tourism and private parties stakes in it. At the outset the Rs 1,000 crore investment plan was a proposal sent to the Central government for its consideration. But the plan did not have any support from the state government nor was any serious effort made at the state level to take it up with the Union government.
Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpay and P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were visitors to Prashanthi Nilayam and top industrialists in the country were devotees of the Baba and they keep visiting the town but even the Union Ministry of Tourism had never viewed Puttaparthi as a potential tourist centre. Neither had it given substantial funds for its development during the past 40 years.
Except for the bridge built over Chitravati river at a cost of Rs 18 crore of late nothing really happened. Local MLA Sridhar said that the Piligrim town will be developed on the lines of Icon City in Mantralaya. Sathya Sai National Park, underground drainage and underground power cables and decent roads were proposed. An R&B circuit guest house, food park and Yoga Wellness Centre was proposed as part of a Rs 1,000 crore plus development project. APIIC promised to provide 100 acres of land for Food Park. Roads and Buildings department would invest Rs 350 crore on the 31.5 km ring road development covering Manillakunta Cross, Kothacheruvu, Puttaparthi and Bukkapatnam mandals.Already 60 acres had been identified for the Yoga Wellness Centre. Of course, Chitravati riverbed beautification has been taken up and as part of the project, a bridge has been built. Sathya Sai devotees and citizens of the town and hundreds of devotees who made Puttaparthi their home are a disappointed lot as scores of VVIPs and VIPs interest in the town too did not change the fate of the town with a promising destiny. One devotee, Sharmila from the north India who made the town her home said, Kerala is fortunate to be called 'God's own Country' but misfortune is haunting the town and unless the Baba is reborn here, it is unlikely to change the fortunes of what appears to be a god-forsaken land, she muttered.