Mrs Rathi Vinay Jha Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, GoI Transport Bhawan, 1 Parliament Street New Delhi – 110001

Sub: Cutivators’ settlements on Yamuna riverbed – village-based eco-tourism opportunities 

Ref: ‘Govt plans ‘village tourism’’, Hindustan Times, 13.02.04 (text enclosed)

Dear Madam,

Your office was kind enough to advise me to write to you when I enquired on phone about details of the Ministry’s proposal to develop village tourism.

I am a qualified planner and my PhD research on eco-tourism and regional development underscored need for local control for sustainability of both. I had (in 1997) conducted for UPAA a stakeholders’ interphase and also identified opportunities within ambit of World Bank project in Corbett region. I was fortunate to be adviser to a private firm deeply committed to eco-tourism that has since been developing and managing camp sites in cooperation with local communities. All their three sites are now largely in control of local cooperatives. This ‘model’, inclusive of environmentally appropriate O&M in tourism plant as well as convergence with forest, horticulture, etc, development, is, therefore, already ‘tested’ and I am convinced that if local control becomes central to eco-tourism policy, not only will eco-benefits accrue from what traditional know-how and care can most effectively provide to ensure that tourism attraction is maintained rather than eroded but also that the elusive connection between tourism and local development will be realized.

I was inclined to write to you to draw attention to this perspective since the news report1 under reference suggested to me a tourist-centred rather than village-cenred approach to village tourism. I did not, however, do so because I do not engage in academic discourse and I also do not seek consultancy, etc. I am writing now because earlier this month I chanced upon some very interesting cultivators’ settlements along Yamuna. I have already suggested to DDA, and the communities have demanded of it, restoration of the riverbed to urban agriculture (with village-based settlement development, heritage and eco-tourism interventions) after clearance of all encroachments.

This suggestion/demand is made within ambit of Delhi Development Act s.10 and s.11A entitlements to comment on development decisions about Delhi and is, in any case, an imperative of the Act in terms of Master Plan land use provisions and also consistent with CGWA notification under EPA. I am enclosing, for your information, my letters in this regard to Secretary Urban Development and Secretary Enviroment. I have also confirmed feasibility of the suggestion with, besides concerned communities, an NGO working with them, scientists, urbanists and history scholars conversant with ridge-riverbed issues, and the private firm with experience with building community capacities for village-based eco-tourism. I request of you the following information:

  1. Tourism Ministry’s proposals for village tourism in Delhi and for Yamuna riverbed
  2. if / how these proposals can incorporate the legitimate demand of riverbed cultivators
  3. if / how they can incorporate suggestions of those with specifically relevant expertise / experience
  4. (if detailed suggestion / proposal is required), details of formal procedure for submitting the same

(since those I have discussed this with are prepared to collaborate with concerned communities on such an initiative within the ambit of a state proposal for the riverbed / village-based eco-tourism).

I do look forward to hearing from you. Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner


  • Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development
  • Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests

Encl, as above

Taste of India

  • Foreigners on their way to, say, Agra can stop by at Nangli Razapur village.
  • They will get to see a panchayat, smoke a hukka... anything that will have them raving about ‘Incredible India’
  • 1. Govt plans ‘village tourism’
    Saurabh Sinha, (New Delhi, February 12)

    Close on the heels of Haryana launching farm tourism, Delhi is soon going to promote some of its villages as a tourist attraction.

    The concept is part of Union Tourism Minister Jagmohan's decision to allot Rs 50 lakh to states to promote villages.

    The idea is to have a taste of India for foreign visitors to Delhi. Since the city has lots of villages, implementing this scheme should not be difficult. "We have identified village Nangli Razapur that's off Mathura Road near Sarai Kale Khan ISBT.

    This place has a rich history. Under British rule, the owners lost their land for opposing the imperialists. As lieutenant governor, I got the patta or title of land returned to their descendants," said Jagmohan.

    Now the place will get spruced up and get connecting roads and an ethnic chaupal and dalaan complete with hukkas within the next five months. This village was chosen because of its strategic location.

    "Foreign tourists going to Agra can easily stop here and get a glimpse of rural India. Orissa and West Bengal have already had success with village tourism," said Jagmohan.

    A tourism industry source said foreign visitors have to be offered newer reasons to return to the country. "Our real strength lies in our heritage and rural life. These things leave foreign tourists awe-struck. Or instance, many people going to Jaisalmer spend a night in tents near sand dunes," he said.