Shipping ministry plans to lease land owned by lighthouses for tourism
NEW DELHI: The government may soon throw open a large chunk of land owned by lighthouses in the country for commercial development.
The Nitin Gadkari-led shipping ministry plans to lease out land held by about 50 lighthouses to private developers for 25-30 years through competitive bidding in the first phase for commercial use, a senior government official said.
“The area that doesn’t fall into the future expansion plan of lighthouses would be developed without impacting the environment,” the official said.
Proposals for developing tourism facilities such as private beaches, water sports facilities, ayurvedic hotels, shopping complexes and food courts will get priority.
India has more than 180 small and big lighthouses owning thousands of acres of land. The shipping ministry has already identified some lighthouses with high potential to develop as tourism zones, including those in Dwarka and Mandvi in Gujarat, North Point in Port Blair, Kanhoji Angre Island near Mumbai port, Minicoy in Lakshadweep, Alappuzha in Kerala, Muttom and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, and False Point near Paradip in Odisha, the official said.
The development of these facilities would be done under the Swizz Challenge model. “Under the Swiss challenge method, any organisation with credentials can submit a development proposal to the government,” the official said. That proposal will be made online and others can give suggestions to improve and beat that proposal.
An expert panel will accept the best proposal and the original proposer will get a chance to match the best proposal. In case the original proposer is not able to match the more attractive proposal, the project will be awarded to the counter-proposal.
The ministry has called for a conference of director generals of lighthouses in October to discuss the contours of the project.
It would be first time India would come out with a separate policy for monetisation of land bank of lighthouses. It is expected that around 500 acres of land would be leased out under this initiative, although the details of land bank available are yet to be worked out.
The government has appointed a consultant to collate the data of land that could be monetised and also to conduct an environmental impact study. The shipping ministry is working on a separate proposal to commercially exploit unutilised land bank of the country’s ports. Under this project, a 130-storey business tower and district is planned on the Mumbai Port Trust land.