KL NEWS NETWORK
Given the growing concerns over the fragile ecology, state’s tourism policymakers are unlikely to permit a road to the northern paradise the Bangus Valley. While the entire housing infrastructure is planned to come up in the periphery of the scenic spot in the villages surrounding it, possibility of a ropeway is being explored to manage the high altitude connectivity.
“We have the fragile ecology of Kashmir in mind and we will not like to copy Gulmarg or Pahalgam in Bangus valley,” Farooq Ahmad Shah, state’s Tourism Secretary told a seminar on tourism on Sunday. “We have Sonamarg converted into a town and we will not like it happen at other places.” He said while Gulmarg has only 700 rooms but the shabby constructions give it a look of Habba Kadal.
Shah said his department has already started a cleaning drive in all the tourist spots. “We cleaned some garbage from Pahalgam that was lying there for more than ten years,” Shah said. “Now we are planning cleaning all the spots and the priority is to outsource this process.” Also in the pipeline is creating STPs, one each at a spot, to ensure clean destinations.
Tourism Secretary also said they have hired an agency to draft the master plan of all the tourist spots and the government would ‘strictly follow’ it in creating the infrastructure.
In order to improve connectivity, Shah said the government has already taken up Leh-Srinagar flights with Air India (AI). Right now there is only one flight between the two spots and the efforts are underway to add two more. “AI officials at the highest level told us that they are keen to improve the Dubai-Srinagar and Srinagar-Jeddah connectivity,” Shah said.
Some of the participants were angry over the abuse of the landscape in creating infrastructure which does not jell with the spot. They singled out the setting up of a children park in Pahalgam. “Some of the policies adopted by the government of India have converted Kashmir from jewel of India to the dustbin of India,” one old houseboat owner said. “This needs a change.”
Some of the participants were vocal in immediate classification of the hotels that exist in Kashmir. They also wanted airport to be tourist-friendly. Besides, they suggested the plunder and loot of visitors by some unscrupulous elements, especially in Sonamarg.
Interestingly, some people from the tourism sector were vocal against the “negative publicity” and suggested a law that will ban any news which has the potential of hurting tourist potential. Interestingly, the suggestion came at a time when J&K was already under 72-hours of internet blockade.