KL NEWS NETWORK
Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti Friday called for promoting niche tourism activities in the border areas of the State to attract high-end tourists with greater economic value. She however, stressed the need for making the tourism activities environment and eco-friendly.
“Given the distinctive geographical location of Jammu and Kashmir, we have immense potential for developing border tourism in the State to attract high-spending tourists for an enriching experience,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a public gathering after inaugurating ‘Baitul Zaireen’ at the shrine of revered saint Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah (RA) at Shahadra Sharief here. ‘Baitul Zaireen’ has been constructed by the Tourism Department at a cost of Rs 4.93 crore to augment the existing accommodation for the pilgrims at the shrine.
She was accompanied by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh.
Ms Mehbooba said the State has to also fully tap the pilgrim tourism potential given the large number of revered religious places located in J&K. “We have so many shrines of great Muslim saints, famous temples and historic Gompas in our State which can attract large number of pilgrims,” she said and added that in her meeting with the Union Home Minister, Mr Rajnath Singh in New Delhi last evening she stressed the need for opening more cross-LoC points along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate movement of pilgrims into J&K from across the border as well. “Such Confidence Building Measures will not only help consolidate peace efforts in the region, but also boost the local economy due to increased tourism activity,” she said.
Ms Mehbooba said she has been time and again reiterating that the people living in and around any tourism destination in the State should be the main beneficiaries of the tourism activity in their area. “I have asked the Tourism Department to help the locals build requisite infrastructure in their respective areas in tune with the local culture so that they draw the maximum benefit from the tourism activities in their area,” she said.
Stressing the need for beautification of the area around Shahadra Sharief shrine, the Chief Minister called for creating additional facilities for the pilgrims. She said a health centre will be setup near the shrine for the pilgrims and the locals.
The Chief Minister said her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had immense emotional attachment with Shahadra Sharief shrine, was keen to develop it as a key pilgrim tourism destination. “In fact it was he (Mufti Sahab) who took personal interest in his first term as Chief Minister between 2002 and 2005 to develop the requisite facilities in and around the shrine and was also instrumental in linking Rajouri with Kashmir through Mughal Road and establishing the Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University at Rajouri,” said and added that in the directions of Mufti Sahab a Nursing College has already been approved for BGSBU and as announced by him a Model School will also come up in the area soon.
Responding to the demands of the locals, the Chief Minister said the Government would develop a Bus Stand in the area and also make all the street lights from Thannamandi upto the shrine functional soon.
Earlier, briefing the Chief Minister about the facilities available at the newly constructed ‘Baitul Zaireen’, Secretary Tourism, Er Farooq Ahmad Shah said the new guest house has 20 double bedrooms with attached bathrooms, two VIP suites, two dormitories, kitchen block and dining hall.
The Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief also paid obeisance at Shahdara Sharief shrine, and prayed for peace and prosperity of the State and wellbeing of the people.
They were later briefed by Administrator of the shrine, Abdul Qayoom Dar, about the various ongoing works aimed at improving the facilities for devotees, who throng the shrine in large numbers from all parts of the state.
Director Tourism Jammu, Ms Sushma Chauhan, Deputy Commissioner Rajouri, Shabir Ahmad, DIG Poonch-Rajouri, Johny William, SSP Rajouri, Rajeshwar Singh and other officers of the Tourism Department and District Administration were present on the occasion.