6 years on, reconstruction of TRC Pahalgam in limbo

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, Mar 3: Six years after a massive fire consumed the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) at the famous Pahalgam resort in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the reconstruction process is in limbo, as authorities have neither allotted an alternate land nor accorded approval for rebuilding it at the original site.
A major fire incident that broke out in June 2014 reduced the TRC Pahalgam to ashes along with a dozen hotels. However, the re-construction has not been started despite passage of six- years.
The re-construction process got stalled after the then Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed asked the Tourism department to look for an alternate location for its construction. “He found the place unfit for TRC as he believed the structure could block the scenic view of mountains. So, it stalled the reconstruction process,” an official said.
The Tourism department immediately wrote to the Revenue department and sought suitable land for the construction of TRC, but they never allotted it. “We asked the Revenue Department for a suitable land. So far, they have not allotted it despite assurances,” another official said, adding they are unaware whether the Government has allotted land for the structure in the new master plan.
Bilal Ahmad, an official of Tourism Department, told Excelsior that Pahalgam is incomplete without TRC. “We don’t have a proper place where tourists can come and seek information, and that creates a poor impression,” he said.
He, however, suggested that Government should rebuild the facility at the original site. “We can easily work in a single-storey building at the original site as enough land is available. The place is perfectly suitable for it. We can reconstruct a small structure there without disturbing the beauty of the area,” he said.
As of now, Bilal said, they are operating from a makeshift arrangement at Nunwan area. “Our people are working from a hut at Nunwan. Although fire destroyed the building, it did not affect our working. We are providing all the information to tourists from Nunwan,” the senior official said.
Asked about the reconstruction of TRC at the original place, PDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mushtaq Ahmad Simnani told Excelsior that they don’t have any issue with a single-storey building. “The second floor will block the scenic view and that cannot be allowed. Also, the land is not enough for a big structure,” he said.
Regarding the allotment of the land, he said, they have received no such proposal.
The hoteliers of Pahalgam also expressed disappointment over the delay in the re-construction of the TRC. “Pahalgam is a world-class tourist resort, and thousands of people visit this place to enjoy nature’s beauty. But, sad that we don’t have a TRC which is a must for a tourist place. It is unfortunate that Government cannot find suitable land for the TRC re-construction,” Mushtaq Ahmad, a local said.