Assessing performance of Tourism Dev Authorities least priority for Govt

No meeting convened by Chairmen during past over one year
Issues remain unresolved, plans yet to be firmed up

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 19: Notwithstanding the tall claims about paying required attention towards promotion of tourism in the State, the Government has failed to assess the performance of the Tourism Development Authorities during the past over one year as a result of which several issues have remained unresolved and plans for holistic development are yet to be firmed up.
There are over two dozen Development Authorities, which were created from time to time as per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970 in order to promote tourist destinations in all the three regions of the State and create necessary infrastructure for the convenience of the tourists.
While Governor is the Chairman of some of the Tourism Development Authorities (as per the latest SROs) like Patnitop Development Authority, Pahalgam Development Authority and Jammu and Kashmir Golf Development and Management Authority, Advisor incharge Tourism Department is the Chairman of the rest of the Development Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir Divisions. In Ladakh Division, Chief Executive Councillors of the Leh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils are the Chairmen of the Tourism Development Authorities.
The objective of each Development Authority is to promote and secure the development of the local area for which it is constituted and for that purpose each Authority is enjoying sufficient powers.
“However, assessing performance of these Development Authorities has remained least priority for the Government and this is evident from the fact that during the past over one year no meeting of these Development Authorities has been convened”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
They further said, “holding meetings of these Tourism Development Authorities after regular intervals is imperative so as to assess the progress on the decisions taken in the previous meetings and to resolve the issues creating impediments in raising infrastructure and promotion of tourist spots under their jurisdiction”.
“There are several grave issues like setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and preparing proper plans for holistic development of tourist spots without interfering with the natural beauty which have remained unresolved during the past quite long time mainly because of inordinate delay in holding meetings of these Tourism Development Authorities”, sources pointed out.
They informed that majority of the Tourism Development Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir including those which were created several years back have yet not come up with their respective Master Plan, which otherwise is imperative for planned development of tourist spots. “There are several other Development Authorities like the one for Patnitop-Sanasar which have got the Master Plan prepared but the finalization of the same is getting delayed inordinately”, sources added.
It is pertinent to mention here that while dealing with the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) both the wings of the State High Court have passed directions from time to time for planned development of tourist destinations and maintenance of their serenity and environment by paying serious attention towards disposal of sewage in most scientific manner.
However, these directions have yet not received the serious attention of majority of the Tourism Development Authorities, sources informed.
“Moreover, there are several projects which were planned for tourist destinations under the jurisdiction of these Development Authorities but have either failed to see the light of the day or there is dilly-dallying approach in their execution”, they said, adding “worst is the situation in case of Bani-Basohli, Billawar-Duggan and Haygam-Nangli Tarzoo Development Authorities which were created by the previous regime as their meetings have not been convened even once by the Government”.
They further said, “unless proper direction is given to these Tourism Development Authorities the objective behind their creation cannot be achieved”.
When contacted, Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Tourism Department Rigizian Sampheal admitted that meetings of Tourism Development Authorities have not been convened since long and said, “SROs appointing Governor and Advisor Incharge Tourism Department as Chairmen of these Development Authorities were issued in the month of March this year”.
“We will shortly start convening meetings so as to assess the performance of Development Authorities and address the issues creating impediments in raising of infrastructure”, he further said.