SRINAGAR: In a major development, 35 picturesque areas in five districts of Jammu division have been identified for transformation as Tourist Villages in order to promote rural tourism optimally and exhibit unparalleled historical, cultural and spiritual values. However, the Deputy Commissioners of remaining districts are dilly-dallying on the same even after explicit directions of the Lieutenant Governor, reported Daily Excelsior.
On September 3, 2021, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth with the aim to transform villages of the Union Territory known for historical, picturesque beauty and cultural significance into Tourist Villages.
“The youth-led sustainable tourism initiative will strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities,” he had stated at the event.
Quoting the official information newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that lists of 32 areas for transformation as Tourist Villages have been submitted to the concerned authorities by the Deputy Commissioners of five districts of Jammu region.
However, not even a single area has been identified for the purpose by the Deputy Commissioners of remaining five districts—Kathua, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Reasi and Ramban.
As far as Jammu district is concerned, Daskal Ambrain, Gharana, Jhajjar Kotli, Mathuar and Surinsar have been identified for development as Tourist Village while as in Doda district such areas are Batote, Dhara, Khellani, Lanchar, Mounda, Noorihanga and Thanala.
Similarly, Arai, Behramgala, Dogrian, Loran, Mendhar, Nangali, Rajpura, Sakhimaidan/Chajjla and Sallonia/Sawjian in Poonch district have been identified for development as Tourist Villages while as such areas in Samba are Chamliyal, Ghagwal, Mahoregarh, Nud, Purmandal and Utterbehni. In Udhampur, such areas are Basantgarh, Chulna, Dudu, Lehar and Inch, Mantalai and Pachound.
The Tourist Villages concept under Mission Youth initiative is aimed at developing villages having distinction in terms of scenic beauty, adventurous terrain, art & cultural, history & archaeology by providing basic amenities.
Broadly, the objectives of the programme are to develop new tourism destinations to the world standard; integrate social, cultural and spiritual characteristics with economic contours; provide all infrastructure facilities required by the tourists within such selected village; develop all selected villages in an integrated holistic manner; converge resources and expertise through coordinated action with all stakeholders and to introduce new concept of rural development based on integrated area development approach.
The activities to be covered under the programme are promotion of local hospitality, adventure and sports facilities, construction of budget accommodation, tourist complexes, wayside amenities, Tourist Facilitation Centre, special tourism projects, sound and light recreational facilities and eco-friendly transportation facilities.
In response to a question, sources said that the villages to be covered under the programme will be selected on the basis of its tourism potential and infrastructural gaps. “The villages which qualify for any of the thematic categories as specified by Mission Youth in consultation with Tourism Department will be assessed on the basis of tourism potential and infrastructural gaps by inter-sectoral expert committee of Mission Youth”, they added.
About the eligibility of youth, they informed that only the youth groups with minimum 5 youth members will be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme. Moreover, the beneficiary must be unemployed and registered with the concerned District Employment & Counseling Centre.
“The eligible youth groups will be provided financial assistance to the tune of Rs 10 lakh including Mudra loan of Rs 8.50 lakh from Lending Bank and the Mission Youth will provide an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh or 15% of project cost (whichever is minimum) as special upfront incentive (subsidy) under the scheme,” newspaper Daily Excelsior quoted sources as having said.
Stating that the scheme will be monitored through a robust monitoring mechanism to ensure the functional efficacy, they said that post- sanction monitoring of the cases will be conducted by Mission Youth through District Level Task Force.
“In order to actualize the vision for developing potential rural areas into world standard Tourist Villages, a dedicated Task Force will be constituted to facilitate formulation and implementation of action plan for selected circuits, including development of perspective plan, convergence of schemes and sectoral coordination,” Daily Excelsior quoted sources as having said.