SRINAGAR: The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole today visited Sonamarg, where he chaired a high level meeting of officers to review the arrangements being put in place for keeping Sonamarg open during the winters.
At the outset, threadbare discussion was held regarding the necessary preparations and arrangements including water, electricity, health, road, fire service, snow clearing operation, traffic management, firewood and other related facilities to be put in place for keeping Sonamarg open during the winters.
Earlier, Sonamarg Tourist Destination remained closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches in Gagangeer area and with the commissioning of Z-Morh Tunnel the Sonamarg Tourist Destination shall remain open for the first time in winter also.
Executive Director, NHIDCL (projects) briefed the Div Com about the traffic action plan through the Z-Morh tunnel and informed that the tunnel shall remain open for one-way traffic movement for light vehicles during winters.
The Div Com directed the BRO to ensure that sufficient machinery and manpower are deployed for clearing of snow from Gagangeer to Sonamarg including car parking areas and directed for submitting an action plan to the Div Com office by or before 25th October in this regard.
Regarding water supply, the Officers of Jal Shakti Department stated that water supply scheme is already under execution at the Thajiwas area under which water pipes are being laid underground and the water can be supplied to the establishment during the winters as well but the work on the project was stopped by the Forest department for which the Div Com directed the Forest department to issue clearance at an earliest so that work is started and get completed before the winters.
He also directed for keeping sufficient water tankers available and ensuring necessary repairing works to existing pipe lines to make them functional during winters also to suffice water requirements.
Regarding mobile connectivity, the officials of Jio, Airtel and BSNL service providers were directed to prepare an action plan to ensure all mobile towers in the area remain functional during winters.
Regarding electricity, Chief Engineer, KPDCL (Distribution) said that to provide electricity to the establishment at Sonamarg during the winters, underground cabling is required or electric lines are needed to be laid through tunnel tubes and a detailed proposal is formulated at higher level by the department.
The Div Com directed him to explore the possibility of providing electricity to Sonamarg during the forthcoming winter without interruption and keep gensets dumped at Sonamarg that can be used during emergency situations.
Similarly, Director Health Services Kashmir was asked to ensure all health facilities at PHC Sonamarg are kept available including sufficient medical and paramedical staff, medicine and ambulance service during the winters as well.
Meanwhile, Hotelier Association Sonamarg and other stakeholders also raised several issues like availability of Fire Tenders, Fire wood, Hospital, ATM, Car parking and others.
The Div Com said that the Government is committed to promote Sonamarg as all weather and preferred winter tourist destination, and in this regard all facilities and arrangements would be put in place by the end of this month and all departments are given necessary instructions in this regard.
He urged hoteliers/ shopkeepers to upgrade their infrastructure as per the weather conditions in the area so that the tourists visiting Sonamarg during winters are provided better facilities and shall not face any inconvenience.
To promote Sonamarg as winter tourist destination, the Divisional Commissioner said that it is imperative to have proper plan for its promotion at all levels as Sonamarg is going to open for the first time in winter and directed the Tourism Department and CEO, SDA to devise a proper mechanism for its wide publicity as winter tourist destination.
He directed for finalizing holistic plan within this month regarding publicity and activities to be carried during winters like Snow festival, winter snow games and other activities as in other winter tourist destinations like Gulmarg and Pahalgam that can be available for tourists during winters so that same could be promoted through print, electronic and social media to have maximum tourist footfall here.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna, Managing Director, JKTDC, Director, Health Services Kashmir, Chief Engineer, KPDCL, Chief Engineer, Mechanical, Chief Engineer, R&B, Conservator of Forest, Srinagar, Executive Director (P), NHIDCL, Srinagar, CEO SDA, Deputy Director Tourism, President Hotelier Association Sonamarg, President Beopar Mandal Sonamarg, various Officers/Officials of District Ganderbal and other stakeholders.