Development of Purmandal and Utterbehni

Corona-virus pandemic and phases of lockdown have damaged economic activities to an unimaginable extent, tourism of every hue and activities related therewith, have drastically plummeted rather come to a screeching halt. The resolve that Corona-virus shall be defeated by us and the economic horizon will buzz again with normal activities warrants that wherever developmental projects are underway or the ones which were already planned but yet to be started should be subjected to a holistic review with intent to complete them in time especially those which have direct bearing on tourism. Purmandal in Samba district is such a place of importance, which if developed reasonably, could become an important religious tourism hub. Called in local parlance as “Chotta Kashi”, this place has temples of pilgrimage and as the place (village) is located on the banks of River Devika, bathing in it is of great religious significance especially for Hindus.
A project to develop Purmandal -Utterbehni religious tourism circuit under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) with an estimated cost of Rs. 50 crore expected to bring about development in areas requiring the same urgently, was enquired about as to its present status by Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu during his visit to the area recently. Though the project is still on papers and yet to be approved, it is learnt that the proposal has been recently sent to Government of India . Since the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has no comprehensive Tourism Policy on modern professional lines where each region of promising potential could receive the desired attention for development, Jammu on the whole, has in fact unluckily been receiving scant attention of the Government hence places of tremendous tourism importance continue to remain underdeveloped and as such underutilized. Not only that, there is usually abysmal execution of tourism related projects.
However, we do not expect the present UT administration to undo the past wrongs or neglects towards Jammu in one go but the fact of the matter is that the present Government must come up to its commitment of “laying special focus on the development of the places of spiritual and religious importance” as reiterated by the Lt. Governor on his maiden official visit to Purmandal. We agree in principle his call for synergized efforts by all stakeholders in this direction. A regular review and monitoring was all that was needed to impart the required importance towards development of the area. In the same area, Utterbehni is another place and Devika river runs from Purmandal down through it. It is of immense interest that it is one of the rare places where a river flows from the south to the north. There has been virtually no focus, neither towards developing the area into a tourism heaven nor even its proper introduction and awareness in order to attract religious tourism. It is really unbelievable that even most of the people, barring those living in Samba and adjoining areas, must not be aware of the beauty and legacy of Purmandal and Utterbehni and for that, Government alone could not do much. Social, religious and cultural organisations could familiarise the people with the peculiarities of the area so that footfall of tourists increases. That would take care of the publicity aspect of this famous place of tremendous religious importance. The ethics and the commercial traits in respect of any entity of special importance greatly lie in the professional and skilled publicity.
We would reiterate that tourism and tourism related issues should get preferred, focussed and prioritised attention of the Government. Tourism is such an industry which is primarily eco and environmental friendly and can be of tremendous importance for generating employment and allied economic activities.