New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and Member Parliament, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti today called for concerted and conscious efforts to save the fragile ecosystem and distinct cultural heritage of the Himalayan region while promoting tourism in the area.
“Given the flood tragedies in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, and Kashmir, and the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, a coordinated effort has to be made by the various states falling in the Himalayan region to ensure adequate safeguards to the fragile ecosystem of the area while promoting sustainable tourism activities.”
Ms. Mehbooba said at a meeting called by the Union Tourism Minister, Dr. Mahesh Sharma about developing the Himalayan Tourism Circuit. Members of Parliament from J&K, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh were invited to the meeting.
Ms. Mehbooba called for integrated development of various existing and new tourist destinations in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh under the Himalayan Circuit. She said a spiritual destination could be developed in Kashmir, with International Yoga Centre at Mantalai and a Buddhist Centre in Ladakh. “Besides, niche activities like paragliding, river rafting, motor safaris, etc. could be promoted in Jammu and Kashmir,” she said and added that at the same time there should be a simultaneous investment in restoration of the State’s distinct heritage.
She also called for expansion of facilities for winter sports and leisure tourism at Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Patnitop and Bhadarwah with the main focus on infrastructure development like roads, underground cabling and frost proof water piping. “Convention Centres of international standards should also be developed at Gulmarg and Patnitop to promote corporate tourism,” she said and sought the Union Tourism Minister’s intervention for release of balance funds under PIDDC scheme for ongoing projects in J&K which are at different stages of completion.
Ms. Mehbooba said that despite submission of DPR for the restoration of flood-affected tourism infrastructure in Kashmir, the follow-up action by the Union Tourism Ministry is still awaited. She called for expediting the release of funds for the restoration of the infrastructure damaged by the September 2014 floods.
Ms. Mehbooba also called for expansion and augmentation of facilities at Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, and Kargil Airports. She said given the tourist season flights should operate to and from Srinagar airport from 7.00 am in the morning up to 10.00 pm as has been already agreed by the Air Force authorities. She also called for increasing frequency of flights to Srinagar and Leh.
She also sought adequate funding for New SPS Museum at Srinagar, Abhinav Theatre Jammu, and Tagore Hall Srinagar so that these institutions are reactivated for the promotion of tourism and cultural activities.