Dharamsala, October 4 - Efforts will be made to make McLeod Ganj the focus of cultural activities in the years to come, said Shri Vijai Singh Mankotia, the honourable minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation of the Himachal Pradesh government.
Speaking at a press conference at Dhauladhar Hotel here, Mankotia said that the Himalayan festival held every year on December 10 coinciding with the day of conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama has seen a diminishing participation in the past years.
"The importance that we wanted to give this occasion somehow diminished in the last five years, so we want to raise the level of participation in this festival of all the Himalayan states like Jammu & Kashmir, Utranchal, Sikkim, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Mizoram etc"
"The whole idea is to make McLeod Ganj the focus of lot of cultural activities because of the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the only personality in this part of the world on whom this great distinction (Nobel Peace Prize) has been conferred", he said.
He also said that troupes even from outside India like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Burma etc will be invited to take part in the festival that lasts for about a week.
The minister told reporters here that attempts would be made to build good infrastructure in McLeod Ganj to ensure a good flow of tourists.
Expressing his pleasure over McLeod Ganj being the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the minister said that it is not ordinary that a great international personality lives in Himachal Pradesh.
The state government is working on a composite plan to effectively monitor and control the administration of this particular area about which, according to Mankotia, the Honourable Chief Minister is very positive.
Plans are afoot to accord a special status to McLeod Ganj and set up a separate administrative authority for McLeod Ganj.
Mankotia also said that the Chief Minister may visit Dharamsala shortly and seek an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to hold discussions about development of McLeod Ganj.
Answering a question on the recent media reports quoting him as saying that the large inflow of Tibetans into Dharamsala is causing congestion to the already fragile geographical condition of the region, the minister said that he has not said that particularly about the Tibetans.
He said he has been misquoted in the report earlier and that he holds the same view for all the other hill-stations like Manali, Dalhousie and Shimla, not Tibetans and Dharamsala particularly.
He told reporters that he had met the exile administration's Kalon Tripa and deliberated on the issue of population pressure in Dharamsala. He also said that 'habitats' for the excess population should be built away from McLeod Ganj like the one near Shimla so that the pressure on Dharamsala be minimised.
Ruling out speculations that the developmental work being carried out vigorously in McLeod Ganj these days is funded by the one million US dollar contribution by Hollywood actors Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn, the minister said the contribution of 1million Dollar was only talked about and that it has not yet been received.
He said some individuals and organisations were willing to fund developmental projects but on the condition that a separate developmental authority independent of various governmental influences be set up.