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JK Bank brought under purview of RTI, CVC guidelines

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Phase-I of Gulmarg Master Plan-2032 approved

Jammu, Nov 22: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met here today with Governor Satya Pal Malik in chair approved the Gulmarg Master Plan – 2032, Phase-I, with Phase-II of the plan to be completed by end of June, 2019.

Advisors to the Governor, B B Vyas, K Vijay Kumar, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and K K Sharma, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Principal Secretary to the Governor Umang Narula were present at the meeting.

It is pertinent to mention that in absence of any Master Plan for Gulmarg and its surroundings, its ecological fragile ecosystem had suffered unstructured development, encroachment and conversion of green cover into impervious surfaces.

The Master Plan envisages developing Gulmarg into an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ace tourist destination. The Master Plan envisages maximizing the contribution of Gulmarg and its surrounds to the state’s economy, preserve its rich natural and cultural heritage, and at the same time provide the best hospitality, excellent value for money and memorable experiences to every visitor, develop Gulmarg as one of the preferred all-weather international tourist destinations, ensuring community participation without compromising on its ecological balance.

For all new constructions and reconstructions, the norms as laid down in Master Plan shall strictly be adhered to without any compromise

The main features of the Master Plan Gulmarg-2032 inter-alia include that Tangmarg area in the vicinity of Gulmarg shall be developed as Satellite-Tourist-Township with flexible set of Development Control Regulations (DCRs) to attract developers for high-end tourism infrastructure. This concept is aimed at reducing further footprint of development in Gulmarg which has very limited carrying capacity.

Significant part of GDA especially Gulmarg, Khillanmarg, Botapathri and nearby areas included in the territorial jurisdiction of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary/Biosphere reserve etc will not be used for any high built-up infrastructure development other than what is proposed in view of ecological constraints and sensitivities involved. Instead such areas have been proposed for leisure-tourism, eco-tourism, and adventure-tourism.

The expansion of existing footprints of tourism infrastructure shall be allowed in accordance with the norms laid down in the Master Plan document, besides it also provides for facade control/design guidelines along with DCRs which are very important for imageability of the destination.

Bed capacity of Gulmarg has been further supplemented by extra accommodation in the form of tourist resort in the south-west of Bowl and hutments and camping sites on the western end of Leopard valley besides eco-tourism areas as per the proposals contained herein.

The Master Plan also envisages development of tourist resorts in Tangmarg making it the night-stay destination and limiting the bed capacity in Gulmarg below its holding capacity.

The Plan envisages designation and development of Botapathri, Khillanmarg and other areas en-route to Botapathri as model ecotourism sites in collaboration with the local communities, Wildlife Department, Forest Department and GD, development of Drung as heritage village with limited tourist activity through the development of guest-houses with the urban design features of vernacular architecture and banning of any kind of compound walling in the area, development of Maahayeen, Qazipur, and Ferozpur as model villages with focus on country guest-house accommodation and low intensity tourist activities, development of Baba Reshi area as heritage area with facilities for pilgrim tourism besides preserve villages in the region and facilitate the local communities to develop ecotourism and guest houses.

The Master Plan also envisages biodiversity parks of Kashmir Himalayan Flora in Gulmarg; separate entry and exit points to avoid traffic congestions and Pony Management to arrest horse dung posing a serious problem in the resort as most of it is littered creating unpleasant landscape.

The preparations of Master Plan-2032 were initiated pursuant to the orders of the High Court in PIL titled Mohammad Rafiq Zargar Vs State and others. The preparation of the Master Plan Gulmarg was preceded by Environmental Impact Assessment and GIS mapping of the Gulmarg part of the local area. The Draft Master Plan-2032 prepared by the Town Planning Organization, Kashmir has been extensively examined by the Tourism Department for the last five years with High Court closely monitoring its preparation, an official press release informed.

Phase-I shall include the existing limits to the extent possible and phase-II shall cover the remaining areas as per the modified SRO and finalized by June, 2019.

While formulating the Draft Master Plan, adequate care has been taken to ensure compliance with all laws, incorporate suggestions as have been received as far as possible and cover forest and other areas especially wildlife. The Master Plan does not intend to regularise any violation or construction made in contravention to the permission granted earlier or any construction without valid permission, the press release informed.

Meanwhile, SAC in a significant decision approved the proposal for treating the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).

The SAC approved that the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 shall be applicable to the J&K Bank Ltd like other PSUs besides the bank shall follow CVC guidelines.

The J&K Bank Ltd shall be accountable to the State Legislature like other State PSUs.  The Annual Report of the J&K Bank Ltd shall be placed before the State Legislature through the State Finance department.

The Finance department will issue appropriate directions in respect of these to the J&K Bank Ltd for observance.

The J&K Bank Ltd established in 1938 is the only State government promoted bank in the country, with State government currently having 59.3 percent shareholding.

As the State is a major shareholder in the J&K Bank Ltd, a need was felt that it should have a character of a PSU which is subject to general supervision and access for enhanced transparency in the transaction of its business to promote public trust, an official press release informed.

It said the purpose of the SAC decision is not to question the day to day activities of the bank management but a step towards strengthening better corporate governance.

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