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            Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today approved the name of the luxury train as ‘Panj Takhts Yatra Express’ to connect all the five Takhts: Sri Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Patna in Bihar and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded in Maharashtra.

            A decision to this effect was taken by Mr. Badal in a review meeting with the senior officers of Tourism & Cultural Affairs department here at Chief Minister’s this morning. 

            Principal Secretary Tourism Mrs. Geetika Kalha apprised the Chief Minister that a special agreement had been signed between Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Punjab Heritage & Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) to run the train, which would be flagged off by Mr. Badal on December 26, 2012.  The luxury train would cover all the five Takhts via Delhi, Agra and Gwalior in nine days starting from Amritsar to Nanded.   She sought Chief Minister’s personal intervention for the grant of subsidized tariff rates allowed to Buddhist Train for this luxury train as now full tariff was being charged by the Indian Railways for Sikh circuit leading to high haulage.  She also informed that the Punjab has improved from 28th to 14th in terms of domestic as well international tourist arrival due to limited media campaign which resulted in significant brand awareness and interest in state. 

            Mr. Badal asked the Chief Secretary to prepare a comprehensive case in this regard and said he would soon personally called on the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Union Railways Minister Mr. Mukul Roy to resolve this issue on priority.  He also agreed to the proposal for the waiver of motor vehicle tax and the permit fee for running a super luxury and ordinary AC buses to cover important historical Gurdwaras and tourists sites in Punjab as a package tour of five nights and six days and directed the Secretary Transport to immediately issue orders in this behalf.  Mr. Badal asked the PHTPB to complete all the projects within the time frame to emerge Punjab as the leading state as a tourism destination not only in India but across the globe also. 

            Mr. Badal evinced keen interest for early completion of the prestigious Anandpur Sahib-Naina Devi Ropeway projects to enable the lakh of pilgrims to offer their prayers at these holy shrines.  He called on his counterpart in Himachal Pradesh Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal on telephone to seek his personal intervention to resolve pending issues between both the states related to this project for its expeditious completion. 
The Chief Minister also asked the PIDB to immediately grant Rs.2 crore to PHTPB for early completion of the ongoing tourism and heritage projects.   He also assured the board to provide adequate funds for publicity campaign to project Punjab as a brand ambassador in the field of tourism and cultural heritage.  He also appreciated the efforts of the tourism department to impart short term courses in the hotel, tourism and travel industry to the local youth. He also lauded the concept of farm house tourism which was picking up very well in the Kandi area of Hoshiarpur district. 

On the occasion, a brief presentation was made by Mrs. Kalha to inform the Chief Minister about the ongoing tourism and heritage projects including  Panj Sarovar Walk in Amritsar, Eco Cab, Sultanpur Lodhi and Patiala Heritage Trails, besides conservation of Gobindgarh fort, restoration of Town Hall for development of city museum, Rambag Garden, Attari Tourist Reception Centre, besides cultural heritage managmenet and tourism development plan for mughal imperial highway and grand trunk road in Punjab known as ‘Badshahi Sadak’.
            Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting included; Tourism Minister Mr. Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Chief Secretary Mr. Rakesh Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. SK Sandhu, Secretary Expenditure Mr. Jaspal Singh, Secretary Transport Mr.Mandeep Sigh, Director Local Government Mr. AK Sinha Director Cultural Affairs Dr. KS Sra besides Mr. KJS Cheema, Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh and Mr. KS Pannu all Special Principal Secretaries to Chief Minister.