Issues of Gulmarg need resolution


Gulmarg in Kashmir is a famous tourist resort and an ideal place for winter sports hence visitors from across the country and abroad as also locals in large numbers keep visiting this tourist spot. It is a natural corollary that numerous issues and problems keep on emerging concerning all related hues which require resolution all in the interests of the people living in that area, the visitors, the hoteliers and others engaged in various commercial activities . Not only that but the most important aspect of protecting and preserving the environment and keeping it pollution free becomes cardinal for keeping protected Gulmarg so that it remains pristine tidy , lush green , clean, not messy , inviting and thus a model tourist resort. That amply means that encroachments and rampant haphazard constructions , the bane of most of the troubles of such important tourist spots, are not only discouraged but sternly dealt with to save this natural and picturesque boon . Having said so what follows is that there should be a comprehensive policy from the Government of Jammu and Kashmir , the provisions and the scope of which should have sufficient solutions to the problems in such a way that everyone knows about it. Looking to the vast scope of this enchanting tourist destination for constant increase in the footfall of tourists to generate enough economic activities , as was otherwise experienced this summer in an unprecedented way , management of Gulmarg as a sustainable tourist (and health) resort and providing quality hospitality coupled with better facilities to tourists requires set and sound official response by putting forth a comprehensive policy. In other words, no amount of any ambiguity or doubts should be there in respect of the administrative decisions to solve issues which should , therefore, be on the basis of equity and uniformity. Unfortunately, there are no policies specifically tailored to meet emerging and even emerged problems some of which continue to be plunged into uncertainties and perhaps are dealt with on ad-hoc basis or on case to case basis and even as per whims of the officers rather than based on well formulated and laid down policies. For example, the issue of lease and extension of lease and on what type of terms and conditions or cancellation thereof in respect of Hotels , Hutments and lodges continue to be wrapped in haze. Likewise, demarcation and identifying of the area where construction of Hotels and other structures are supposed to be raised is not done and duly notified. Dumping of solid waste generated and managed on scientific lines remains yet to be clearly known. In respect of the updated position regarding the most vital status of Forest Land and Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary too is neither known, nor notified. Which areas have been identified and earmarked for leisure tourism, eco-tourism, adventure tourism, sports tourism like playing golf and the like continue to remain in limbo. The list, however, is symbolic and not exhaustive looking to the vast potential this tourist resort has for varied and heavy investments to develop its high end tourism infrastructure and to carve out its niche in the list of all weather international tourist destinations. There are, in the same way, various issues of importance which have no definite solutions based on well carved out official policy . This has resulted in these issues having been taken to the courts ostensibly by aggrieved parties with a hope of specific directions being given to the Gulmarg Development Auhority (GDA) and the UT Government to deal with the matters enumerated herein . On the other hand, agreeably most of the concerns in respect of this tourist spot have already been taken note of by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir resulting in stitching of Gulmarg Master Plan – 2032 which has been approved already in the year 2020 . The said Plan, among other things, is increasingly aimed at making Gulmarg a contributor in a good measure towards the economy of the UT without , of course, with any telling effect on its rich natural and cultural heritage. However, the fact is that the said Master Plan is limited in the sense that it is applicable only in certain areas and not in the ones mentioned herein, and expected to be implemented by the GDA. Therefore, what should be inferred is that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is supposed to make an official policy which could deal with the specific issues and that is what the High Court has directed and asked the UT Advocate General to come up with concrete written response on the issues specific, Master Plan 2032 notwithstanding, in the next date of hearing of the case. Hence, what is expected is a breakthrough in the entire case in totality and resolution of various issues through a well established and comprehensive official policy