AGARTALA, Feb 16 (IANS): A parliamentary team Wednesday said it will suggest the name of Unakoti, a seventh century pilgrim spot in Tripura, as a world heritage site and also pointed out that improved infrastructure could make the state the gateway to India's northeast.
The team of MPs headed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury will also propose to the central government to take steps to protect Neermahal, eastern India's only lake palace.
"If the infrastructure were properly developed and rail, road, air and waterways connectivity through Bangladesh improved, Tripura could be the �gateway of northeast India' and neighbouring countries," Yechury told reporters at the end of the three-day tour of Tripura.
The parliamentary team, comprising eight members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and 31 top central government officials, is on a tour of northeastern states to study possibilities of development of tourism, transport and cultural affairs.
Yechury said: "We would give specific recommendations to the centre to develop the infrastructure of the northeastern region, which has huge scope of expanding tourism related prospects."
Unakoti, 180 km north of here, is reputed for its seventh century stone and rock cut images on the hills and a Hindu pilgrim site.
The magnificent water palace Neermahal, the second of its kind in India after the lake palace in Rajasthan's Udaipur, was built by the then king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in 1930 in the midst of the Rudrasagar lake as his summer residence.
"The union forest and environment ministry had earlier declared Rudrasagar as a 13th national lake of India. Half of the Rudrasagar lake has been encroached by farmers and other people, besides the need to augment navigability," a Tripura tourism development corporation official said.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has begun preliminary work to upgrade Agartala airport to an international airport to boost the region's connectivity with Southeast Asia.
"AAI has taken up an ambitious Rs.80 crore project to gradually develop Agartala airport to an international standard. Also, a modern Air Traffic Control tower is being set up at a cost of Rs.10 crore," said AAI's executive director (northeast) R.K. Singla, who accompanied the parliamentary team.
At present, on an average 32-33 aircraft operate every day through Agartala airport, connecting Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, the southern states, Imphal (Manipur) and Silchar in southern Assam.