Union Shipping Minister G.K.Vasan on Saturday launched an ambitious project for promotion of tourism in 14 lighthouses across the country at a cost of Rs.300 crore.
The objective is to turn these lighthouses and surrounding areas into maritime landmark destinations and develop allied maritime infrastructure.
The Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) will complete the project in 36 months. Lighthouses in Chennai, Mamallapuram, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari-Muttam and Paradeep are among those selected.
As a part of the project, a National Heritage Museum will be set up at Mamallapuram at a cost of Rs.50 crore. A lighthouse museum, at a cost of Rs.5 crore, will come up on the Marina in Chennai.
Tracing the history of maritime trade of Tamils since ancient days, Mr. Vasan said the first reference about lighthouses could be found in Silapathikaram. Poompuhar, Thondi, Musiri, Vanchi and Korkai were well-known ports of Tamil Nadu.
He inaugurated an exhibition on the history of lighthouses and released two books on Mahabalipuram and Cuddalore Point lighthouses.
T.S. Sridhar, Principal Secretary, Commissioner of Museums and Archaeology, said the department would extend all assistance to the DGLL in implementing the project. DGLL Director-General A.M. Surej, Coast Guard IG S.P. Sharma and Chairman of Chennai Port Trust Atulya Mishra were among those who participated.