Alfred B Ford, senior trustee of Ford Motor Company Fund, said on Friday that he was talking to several strategic partners for setting up a Vedic Cosmological Project at Mayapur, West Bengal.
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata after addressing an interactive session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (eastern region), Ford said that the project envisaged setting up of a planetarium, which would reflect Vedic cosmology.
The project, he said, would be developed as a place for pilgrim tourism where lakhs of foreign visitors were expected to visit thereby boosting the local economy.
Ford also had detailed talks with West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta on the project, where the state government was expected to provide infrastructural support.
Asked about the estimated project cost, Ford said that it was still being worked out, adding that a designer from Prince Charles School of Architecture of the United Kingdom was entrusted to design the planetarium.
Ford, a disciple of A C Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, founder of International Society for Krishna Consciousness, said the project should take off ideally by 2005.
Asked whether chances were there for relocating the project elsewhere if the state government failed to give in-principle approval within a reasonable time period, Ford said that he had received a call from the Orissa Governor this morning urging him to set up the planetarium there.
With a view to develop Mayapur as a centre for Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Ford said there would be facilities of international standard, which included schools, restaurants, and guest houses.
Steve Raisz, another disciple, said that the state government was particularly asked to facilitate river transport along the Ganges linking Ganga Sagar, Dakshineswar and Mayapur.
He said the matter would also be taken up with the Centre for creating a channel for navigation by dredging the river.
Earlier, during his interaction with CII members, Ford said that more than 80 per cent of pilgrim tourism in India was bound for Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
According to him, if the project was put in place in Mayapur as planned, then the state would see a spate in tourist influx.
ISKCON already has a temple in Mayapur built in the memory of Prabhupada.