The inaugural edition of the ‘Bharatiya Prakash Sthamb Utsav,’ or the Indian Lighthouse Festival, that was held at Fort Aguada in Goa on September 23, marked a significant step towards transforming historical lighthouses into major tourist destinations, utilising the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
The festival focused on revisiting India’s rich maritime history, highlighting the stories and their significance. And now, encouraged by the festival’s success, the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships has identified 75 iconic lighthouses and is seeking private partners to develop them. The investment opportunities by the Ministry is already thrown open to the partners.
Making the announcement at the festival opening Sarbananda Sonowal, the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush said the Ministry is looking to work towards revitalising these age-old maritime landmarks along India’s coast.
The primary goal, he said, is to uncover the rich heritage of these iconic sites and showcase them to the world, transforming these lighthouses into hubs of education, culture, and tourism.
“For long, the silent sentinels of coastlines were left ignored while serving the light of hope to scores of sailors and ships amidst the darkest nights. The Lighthouse Festival is our endeavour to change that. It is our mission to inform, engage, and educate all of you about the vital role these historic beacons have played in our nation’s history,” the minister stated.
“Beyond the festival, our vision is to promote lighthouses as tourism destinations, to breathe new life into these historic structures, and to create opportunities for local communities and businesses,” he added. Under the ‘Reform to Transform’ initiative, the current Government enacted the Marine Aids to Navigation Act, 2021, replacing the Lighthouse Act, 1927. This act provides a framework for the development, maintenance, and management of aids to navigation in India.
“Under this, we introduced the innovative concept of Heritage Lighthouse, wherein the central government may designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse. In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes,” said Sonowal.
During the day-long Lighthouse festival, a session titled ‘Lighthouses: Guardians of India’s Past and Present’ was organised by Bharat Pravah, an initiative of the Institute for Governance, Policies, and Politics.