JAMMU, Jan 16: Minister for Education Naeem Akhtar today said that the Government has taken several initiatives to make Jammu as an independent tourist destination and divert pilgrim tourists towards other tourist resorts of the province.
Responding to a question of BJP member Ashok Khajuria in the Upper House here today, Naeem said that various initiatives have been taken for infrastructure upgradation to promote diverse tourism activities in Jammu region.
He said a Yoga Centre is coming at Mantalai in Udhampur district of Jammu region which would become a place of attraction for foreign as well as local tourists keeping in view the growing popularity of the Yoga. He said the Government is also creating water sports facilities and other infrastructure to tap the huge tourism potential of Ranjeet Saghar Dam in Basohli area.
The Minister said promotion of border tourism is also being given priority and for the purpose infrastructure facilities are being upgraded. He said in this regard the Government would approach the Centre for funds adding that promotion of border tourism would be also helpful in normalizing the relations with the neighbouring country. He said promotion of adventure tourism is also priority of the Government and Mubarak Mandi Cable Car Project would be completed by March 2018. He said that work on Patnitop Gondola project is being taken up and would be completed in stipulated time frame.
Naeem further stated that the Govt plans to develop Bhangus valley as a major tourist attraction with least disturbance to the local eco-system by way of promoting eco-tourism.
Replying to the main question earlier, the Minister of State for Tourism, Priya Sethi informed the Upper House that several mega tourism projects are underway in Jammu for promotion of tourism activities. She said that Mantalai-Sudhmahadev and Patnitop are being developed as independent tourist destinations at a sanctioned cost of Rs 97.82 crore under Prime Minister’s Development Programme (PMDP). She said different kind of tourism infrastructure would be upgraded under this project to attract maximum footfall towards tourist resorts in Jammu region.
She said Rs 27.22 crore have been sanctioned by the Centre for the development of Himalayan circuit as part of `Swadesh Darshan’ and various projects would be taken up under the program which includes construction of Amusement Park at Sidhra Golf Course, upgradation of facilities at Suchetgarh border in RS Pura, Katra and Bagh-e-Bahu and other tourist places.
Sethi said that to supplement the Central financial assistance, an amount of Rs 25 crore annually is being provided for promotion of tourism related activities in Jammu division by the Government. She further said that an agreement has been executed with MS Empyrean Sky View Projects Ltd for execution of Patnitop-Gondola project and the company has already started surveys which are at the final stage. She said the main work is expected to be started in the month of February-March 2017.
Priya Sethi said as many as 32 major works, at a total cost of Rs 37.26 crore, have been taken by Jammu based Tourism Development Authorities for up-gradation of infrastructure at different tourist resorts under Capex Budget. She said of this 16 works have been completed and remaining works are at final stage of completion.
The Minister further informed that tourism projects of more than Rs 153 crore have also been sanctioned for these Development Authorities by Union Ministry of Tourism under Central Financial Assistance as part of different schemes.
Legislators Surinder Mohan Ambardar, Ajat Shatru Singh, Vibod Gupta, Vikramaditya Singh and Dr Bashir Ahmad Veeri raised supplementary questions.