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Holistic development of J&K major goal of GoI: PSC

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Committee holds meeting with stakeholders on promotion of Transport, Tourism, Culture

Photo/Javed Khan

SRINAGAR: In a first of its kind visit after the Covid-19 outbreak, a delegation of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture began consultations with stakeholders on how to resolve problems being faced by the residents of the UT.

During a meeting with stakeholders, several measures were discussed to review and examine the status of Highways, state Highways, potential and promotion of Tourism sector and preservation of archaeological and heritage sites in Jammu and Kashmir here today, a government communiqué issued here said.

The Committee led by its Chairman, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha T.G Venkatesh held  threadbare discussion on the development of road, railway and air Connectivity during the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman said that the all-round development of UT was a major goal of Government of India and that the Committee was on a visit to understand the problems of residents of J&K to address them.

He said that the committee was here to listen to the stakeholders about constraints being faced by them in these sectors like road transport and the measures that needed to be taken to ensure that the highways in J&K match international standards.

The Committee shall also take stock of the promotion of Tourism sector vis-à-vis tapping domestic tourism, promotion of rural and adventure tourism, hotel infrastructure and development of highways for better road transport connectivity, the chairman said.

During the meeting various representatives from tour,  travel and hospitality sector representing KCCI, Hotelier Club, TAAK, TASK, PILTOF, HBOA, CTT, AKTO,  NTTA, HSG and DTOAK raised various  issues related to better connectivity and promotion of Tourism sector.

Demanding better road connectivity, the stakeholders apprised the committee about the problems  faced  by people due to frequent suspension of both road and air connectivity particularly closure of Srinagar- Jammu Highway during the winter months.

A number of  issues and demands were raised by the stakeholders to the Committee  like  frequent closure of Srinagar- Jammu highway, revival and renovation of houseboats, uninterrupted power supply to hotels, financial packages for artisans, rising unemployment graph  due to adversely affected tourism sector, need for cap on airfare, train connectivity, promotion of tourist destinations, round the clock functioning of Srinagar International Airport, better facilities at airport, lifting of travel advisories, cultural and adventure sports, medical tourism promotion, preservation of cultural and heritage, enhancement in central government funds, revival and restoration of lakes and other water bodies and better road connectivity across all tourist destinations.

The committee members assured that all the genuine issues shall be taken at appropriate level for resolution.

The committee also held a meeting with officials of Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Government of India, ASI and UT Government on promotion and preservation of Archaeological sites and artefacts in J&K and concerned officers briefed the delegation on measures taken for promotion of archaeological sites, monuments, and artefacts through a power point presentation.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee, presently on three day visit to Kashmir is led by Chairman of the Committee T.G Venkatesh and other MPs of the delegation on visit to Srinagar include Prassana Acharya, Vinay Dinn Tendulkar, Margani Bharat, Rahul Kaswan, Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Chhedi Paswan, Kamlesh Paswan, Sunil Kumar Pintu, Tirath Singh Rawat, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Ramdas Chandrabhanji Tadas and Krupal Balaji.

Dr Jitendra Singh, Union MoS Prime Minister’s Office and Dr Farooq Abdullah MP Srinagar also attended the meeting. Besides, senior officers from Ministry of Tourism Govt of India, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir P. K Pole, Secretary Tourism J&K Sarmad Hafeez,, Deputy Commissioner  Srinagar Shahid Iqbal, Director Tourism,  Director Archives & Archaeology,  CGM NHAI, GM NHAI, ADG MoRTH and other senior officers were also present on the occasion. The meeting was also joined by senior officers of the UT Administration through video conferencing arranged by NIC Srinagar.

 Stakeholders ask for better roads, convenient airfare

Srinagar: Urging the government to end the highway uncertainty and ensure convenient air-fare besides bringing about a change in the overall transport sector, tourism stakeholders of Kashmiri, toady, briefed the visiting Parliamentary delegation about the lacunae that restricted the valley from becoming one of the best tourism attractions in the world.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Industries (KKCI) President, Sheikh Ashiq Hussain, after meeting the delegation, said that they shared their view point before the committee and hoped that the committee shall act upon the suggestions. “We demanded end to the Srinagar-Jammu highway closure once for all. The highway closure triggers mess across the Valley.  As soon as the highway gets closed, the Air fares go high. We urged the MPs to ensure that air travel is made convenient so that it will become easier for everyone to travel,” Hussain said.

Hussain also alleged that despite repeated promises by the previous regimes and officials on improving the highway condition, nothing was done to resolve this issue. “We demand there should some accountability and also punishment to the agencies and officials who fail to meet the deadlines,” he added.

President, Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association, Hameed Wangnoo said who also attended the meeting said that the members of the delegation were made aware of the series of issues confronting the houseboat owners besides other issues pertaining to other tourism sectors. “We presented a memorandum. Every year such delegations come, but so far nothing except assurance is what we get,” he said adding that the tourism players have been demanding a direct rail link between Srinagar and Jammu.  Once the highway is closed, the airfare is inflated which is causing a huge dent to Kashmir tourism, he added.

Several issues which were presented to the delegation included ‘Soft Loans’ by All J&K Shikara Union, President Ghulam Ahmed Kolu, Grant-in Aid, financial package raised by Chairman, United Tourism Forum, Manzoor Ahmed Pakhtoon.

MoS, Dr Jitendra Singh and NC chief and sitting MP, Dr Farooq Abdullah, were also present in the meeting.

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