CM’s directions hold no importance for Rajouri, Poonch Development Authorities

Pir Panchal as major tourist destination still a dream

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Apr 13: Shocking it may sound but it is a fact that directions of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti regarding promotion of Pir Panchal as major tourist destination by raising necessary infrastructure are not being taken seriously by the Rajouri and Poonch Tourism Development Authorities.
This is evident from the fate of the decisions taken in the Governing Body meetings of these Tourism Development Authorities held under the chairpersonship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last year.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that while chairing the Governing Body meetings of Poonch and Rajouri Tourism Development Authorities on July 9, 2017, the Chief Minister had described Pir Panchal region as a treasure of heritage and adventure tourism and laid stress on developing spots particularly heritage sites along the historic Mughal Road to attract tourists from across the country.
The Chief Minister had issued directions for developing places like Peer Ki Gali, Noori Chamb, Chingus, Mughal Sarai, Bhimber Gali and old Poonch Fort along the Mughal Road so that heritage and history lovers besides tourists of high spending are attracted and the whole area gets exposed to the vast tourism market thereby giving a boost to local economy.
She had also directed for setting up of food courts, viewpoints, wayside facilities including rest rooms along the Mughal Road for converting the entire Pir Panchal region into a major tourist destination.
However, no discernible progress has been made on all these directives of the Chief Minister by the Poonch Tourism Development Authority despite lapse of several months, sources informed, adding “what to talk of major infrastructure even food-courts, proper viewpoints, way-side facilities have not been made available along the Mughal Road as a result of which people commuting on this picturesque road face inconvenience”.
“Those at the helm of affairs in Poonch Tourism Development Authority are soft-paddling on the directions of the Chief Minister despite being aware of the fact that without adequate facilities Mughal Road cannot become major tourists attraction spot”, sources regretted.
Similar is the fate of the directions regarding exploring possibility of a cable car project up to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah in Rajouri and an artificial lake at Tata Pani.
“The district administration on its part had formally written to the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation for deputing a team to assess the possibility of cable car but no action has been taken by the Corporation”, sources said, adding “as far as artificial lake at Tata Pani is concerned the project cost was revised and it was divided into two phases but thereafter no step was initiated by Rajouri Development Authority to give practical shape to the decision of the Governing Body”.
What to talk of making headway on cable car and artificial lake the Tourism Development Authority of Rajouri has even failed to construct five toilet blocks along the National Highway for the convenience of people and tourists despite availability of land.
“On the intervention of district administration the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) had agreed to provide Rs 2 lakh for each unit under Corporate Social Responsibility but despite this Tourism Development Authority has failed to initiate steps on ground”, sources informed, adding “the Development Authority is also dilly-dallying on development of eco-tourism park at Patli Qilla Kotranka”.
Moreover, the Rajouri Development Authority is soft-paddling on establishment of amusement park at Kotranka, Mankote and Jawahar Nagar.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary admitted that several decisions taken by the Governing Body of Rajouri Development Authority are yet to be implemented.
“The role of district administration is confined to making available suitable land for the creation of tourism infrastructure and the same has already been done”, he said, adding “we had even approached the Cable Car Corporation as far as ropeway project up to the shrine of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah is concerned but the response is awaited”.
However, Deputy Commissioner Poonch Mohd Aijaz, when contacted, expressed ignorance about the progress made on the decisions of Governing Body of Poonch Tourism Development Authority. “Chief Executive Officer would be in a better position to explain the steps taken on the directions of Chief Minister”, he said.
Despite repeated attempts, the Chief Executive Officer could not be contacted.