Extend special financial package for revival of tourism & hospitality sector in J&K: Parl Panel

‘Prepare roadmap for creation of carbon-neutral Ladakh’

Suggests start of commercial flights from Kargil Airport

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Mar 16: Stating that tourism and hospitality industry in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered immensely due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended special financial package for active revival of this important sector as early as possible.
In its report tabled in both Houses of the Parliament, the Standing Committee has observed, “no doubt several steps have been taken for the development and promotion of tourism in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir but during the visit of members it came to the fore that tourism and hospitality industry suffered immensely due to restrictions and lockdowns imposed to contain surge of COVID-19”.
“The tourism and hospitality sector, apart from generating large revenue, is a major source of livelihood for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as such Ministry of Home Affairs should request the Ministries of Finance and Tourism to chalk out a road-map and extend a special financial package for active revival of tourism and hospitality sector in the Union Territory”, the Parliamentary Panel has recommended.
The Standing Committee has been informed by the J&K Government that in order to enhance the level of hospitality and to ensure that tourists visiting J&K have a pleasant experience, the Tourism Department is focusing on capacity building of service providers and stakeholders.
“The Department will be working closely with the hotel industry and stake holders to improve upon the quality of services in order to invoke the spirit of hospitality that J&K is known for”, the Government has conveyed to the Parliamentary Panel.
About the Union Territory of Ladakh, the Committee said, “we are aware of the huge tourist footfall in Ladakh. But with tourists coming in, there is a growing problem of improper disposal of garbage and inorganic wastes like plastic bottles etc”, adding “we believe that the uncontrolled tourist practices will gradually lead to degradation of the fragile eco-system of Ladakh”.
Accordingly, the Committee has recommended that a roadmap may be prepared for creation of carbon-neutral Ladakh including use of renewable energy sources, electric transport, organic farming, micro-irrigation techniques and sustainable tourism model with minimum carbon footprint.
It has further recommended that the Ladakh Union Territory administration should take steps to increase green cover by planting more trees. “The tree plantation drives of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces deployed in Ladakh may be integrated with the efforts of UT administration to increase the green cover and the Ministry of Home Affairs should extend necessary budgetary support and technical interventions to the UT for the same”, the Standing Committee said.
As the Ladakh Union Territory administration has requested the International Civil Aviation Organization for feasibility study of commercial flights from Kargil Airport, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to apprise it about the progress made in this regard.
It is pertinent to mention here that air connectivity by regular commercial flights to Kargil has been a long standing requirement. The district Kargil has an airport with a runway of 6000 feet and as there are technical issues in landing of big bodied aircraft, the UT administration of Ladakh on the recommendation of the Airport Authority of India has requested the International Civil Aviation Organization to carry out feasibility study for commercial flights from Kargil airport. Moreover, the administration has paid the consultancy charges to ICAO.
“It has also been brought to our notice that the people’s representatives are not being involved by the administration of Union Territory of Ladakh while finalizing/prioritizing the developmental projects earmarked to be taken as such we strongly recommends that the administration of UT should ensure the participation of the local MP and other public representatives during planning, implementation and projection of budgets of developmental projects”, the Committee said while recommending the Ministry of Home Affairs that the fragile and sensitive ecology of the UT should not be disturbed while implementing various projects.