JAMMU: In a mega push to promote eco-tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Administrative Council (AC), which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, approved the development of 7 new trekking routes in various wildlife protected areas by the Wildlife Department in coordination with the Tourism Department.
To sustainably promote tourism in the forest hinterland without disturbing the ecological balance in the protected areas, the Administrative Council also approved opening-up of the existing infrastructure and resources of the Forest Department including rest houses/inspection huts to tourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
The decision will allow online booking of 29 forest rest houses/inspection huts in Kashmir and Jammu divisions; under a common brand and logo from 1st May 2021.
The Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment was directed to put in place a user-friendly online portal for booking identified rest houses on a first-come, first-serve basis as per their availability and intake capacity. The Department was directed to refurbish and open another batch of 58 rest houses/huts to tourists by 1st July 2021.
These accommodations are located in different forest divisions at the quaintest places amidst pristine nature. Hitherto, they were reserved for forest officers to be utilized only during official tours in connection with conservation, protection, and management of forests and wildlife.
Meanwhile, the Administrative Council also approved development of new trekking routes in Bahu Conservation Reserve, Sudhmahadev Conservation Reserve, Thein Wildlife Conservation Reserve, Tral Wildlife Sanctuary-Dachigam National Park-Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, Thajwas Wildlife Sanctuary, Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve-Dachigam National Park-Khonmoh Conservation Reserve, and Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve.
The trekking avenues range from short day-long treks up and down mountain slopes, to long-trans-mountain traverses involving a week of trekking and camping in the wilderness. These trekking routes pass through scenic splendors, with wild fauna and flora. Now that youth across India are inclined more towards adventure activities, these treks will be developed as well sought-after destinations for trekkers.
The development of these trekking routes will provide gainful employment to the local population and tap the adventure/eco-tourism potential of the UT.