Draft Master Plan for Patnitop


After a lot of hectic attempts, the draft of Master Plan for a planned and balanced development of the top famous tourist spot in Jammu – Patnitop prepared in the year 2017 is still oscillating between uncertainties of finalisation by the Government and its likely date of implementation process. The period of 5 years of inertia means much when the issue is not only the holistic development of the spot but its adjoining areas too and the state of affairs of an unspecified fate results only in the ecological and environmental damage though slowly of this spot which, however, being the first choice of the visiting tourists to throng, stay and enjoy the captivating scenery of the place as also other adjoining interesting spots. Not only tourists but local people too have a discerning choice to visit the spot especially during peak summer months. In other words, it denotes huge influx of people in and around the area thus requiring a planned, improved and orderly development which could be achieved only under the auspices of a well drafted Master Plan taking into account important aspects like ecology and environment concerns and a scientific wastage treatment mechanism. There are certain sensitive issues in respect of the Draft Master Plan already in know of the Tourism Department but for reasons not known and in addition to it, even the present Government seems to be enticing least interest to resolve the requisite issue. How by piecemeal approach vital documents like Master Plan are drafted and subsequently treated can be visualised by the fact that there were certain discrepancies in respect of revenue particulars and details in respect of many areas as also which uses were the proposed land to be acquired decided to be subjected to and allied issues which came into notice only after subjecting the Draft to be in the public domain for soliciting objections, suggestions and other types of information. With intent to have the same corrected, one more round of the redrafted Master Plan took place and for seeking public response , fresh objections, if any, the same was again put in public domain and then finally in all complete form submitted to the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) for incorporating fresh suggestions etc in the Master Plan. Now, if all corrections and revisions wherever required have been done, what keeps the Government from proceeding ahead with taking a decision for approval and thus implementing the same is not known. As an afterthought, the Government through orders brought more areas under the jurisdiction of Patnitop Development Authority which if analysed discreetly was not a bad idea looking into the future needs and requirements of this heavily frequented tourist spot likely to spread to more such areas in scope and what it offers to visitors. Therefore, consequently to add those areas in the draft Master Plan before finalising the same became necessary . It looks absolutely strange that the Tourism Department has been found not handling the issue seriously in this respect and while the CEPT having received Rs.23 lakhs as its honorarium for the job is not inclined to do more of work on it in the shape of incorporating additions and modifications in the draft Master Plan particularly in respect of adding more areas. In a way, CEPT is not absolutely unjustified also in sticking to its stand as repeated modifications, additions and the like cannot be taken quite casually like the Tourism Department, Patnitop Development Authority and the Government probably appear to do. We feel that had the entire exercise taken along and involved in it the Town Planning Organisation, perhaps the emerged issues would have not sprouted. No coordination, no initiatives and no decision in the matter depicting lack of proper planning and not sorting the issues as and when they arise or are found out later usually result in impasses, technical hitches and administrative difficulties. The result, in short, is an uncertain fate of the draft Master Plan and Patnitop along with its adjoining areas continuing to be bereft of controlled and planned development. Apart from all these issues which we feel have been creeping up primarily on account of non-serious and casual approach by the concerned Tourism Department , Patnitop Development Authority and the Government , it looks very unfortunate that at least for this spot of importance from the tourism point of view falling in Jammu division , so many years should just get fretted away for implementing a process of planned and well controlled development. Again, a question of mindset and the barometer to know how much the UT Government was serious about the development of tourism in this region is implicit in the present fate of this Master Plan. Still, we feel that issues appearing to be humps in approving and implementing the Master Plan are not that inelastic by nature that they cannot be resolved, only what is missing is breaking the inertia and taking bold initiatives