The Ministry of Tourism launched a new plan scheme Swadesh Darshan for Integrated Development of Theme-Based Tourist Circuits in the country in the year 2014-15. Buddhist Circuit has been identified as one of the thirteen thematic circuits for development under the scheme. All places associated with Buddhist Heritage in the country are covered under this theme.
The Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for tourism projects including Buddhist sites in consultation with them subject to availability of funds, liquidation of pending utilization certificates and adherence to the scheme guidelines.
Under Buddhist Circuit theme, Ministry has sanctioned projects “Construction of Cultural Centre at Bodhgaya, Bihar” for Rs.33.17 crore in 2014-15 and “Development of Buddhist Circuit in Sanchi-Satna- Rewa-Mandsaur-Dhar in Madhya Pradesh” for Rs.74.94 crore in 2016-17.
The details of projects carried out with foreign assistance for development of Buddhist sites during the last five years is given below:-
1. Ajanta Ellora Conservation and Tourism Development Project (Phase-II) 2003-2014: A loan agreement for an amount equivalent to 7331 million JPY was signed between Government of India and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in March 2003 for the above project. The places covered under the project were Ajanta, Ellora, Aurangabad, Daultabad, Patnadevi, Lonar in Maharashtra. The project was completed in July 2014 and the total expenditure incurred on the project is Rs.250.30 crore approx.
2. Designing of comprehensive plan for upgradation of Buddhist sites in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, the Departments of Tourism of the Governments of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) (World Bank Group) had entered into an agreement for advisory services in October 2013 for designing and implementing a comprehensive plan for upgradation of Buddhist sites in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The work on the project is over and the strategy formulated by IFC “Investing in Buddhist circuit-2014-2018” was released in July 2014. The total cost of project was Rs.4.50 crore of which the share of Ministry of Tourism was 50%, IFC 40% and the States of Bihar and UP was 5% each.