Proposals for some tourist destinations fail to become reality
Environment under grave threat; Tourism, H&UDD sleeping
JAMMU, Sept 29: Due to bureaucratic inertia, majority of the Tourism Development Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir don’t have facility for scientific disposal of solid waste being generated in their areas of responsibility thereby posing grave threat to the environment of the tourist destinations.
Moreover, the prevailing situation is indicative of lack of coordination between Tourism and Housing and Urban Development Departments, which otherwise have to work in a collective and planned way for the protection of fragile environment.
From time to time, successive Governments created Development Authorities for numerous tourist destinations in Jammu and Kashmir with the objective to create necessary infrastructure for the convenience of the tourists.
Apart from ensuring holistic development of the tourist spots under their respective jurisdictions, these Authorities were supposed to initiate all possible measures for the protection of the environment, which otherwise came under acute pressure due to the influx of tourists and subsequent generation of large quantity of solid waste.
However, environment protection neither received due attention of Tourism Department under whose administrative control these Development Authorities function nor of the Housing and Urban Development Department, which has the responsibility of ensuring scientific disposal of solid waste in the length and breadth of the State.
“Due to this, majority of the Tourism Development Authorities are lacking facility for scientific disposal of solid waste and environment of tourist destinations continues to remain under severe threat”, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “the non-serious approach towards this aspect is notwithstanding the fact that Tourism and Housing and Urban Development Departments have received sharp criticism from the State High Court a number of times for slackness in providing state-of-the-art solid waste treatment plants for the major tourist destinations”.
They disclosed that Patnitop, a major tourist destination in Jammu region, has yet not been provided with solid waste treatment plant although efforts in this regard were made several years back. “No doubt, Patnitop Development Authority has installed a number of dust bins for collection of solid waste but scientific disposal of the same has remained a dream till date”, sources added.
“As far as Bhaderwah, another major tourist destination in Jammu region, is concerned, the bio-degradable waste is dumped in pits and non-biodegradable waste is lifted by the Municipal Committee to other dumping sites in the absence of treatment plant”, they said, adding several years back a proposal to establish treatment plant at a cost of Rs 65 lakh was mooted but the same failed to see light of the day because of some issues.
When contacted, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bhaderwah Development Authority Dr Rajinder Khajuria confirmed that proposal had to be dropped for some reasons. “There is pressing need for solid waste treatment plant for the entire Bhaderwah town so as to cater the requirement of tourist spots as well as the inhabitants of the town as at present everything is being thrown into nullahs”, he added.
“Similarly, no serious thought has been given to the setting up of solid waste treatment plant in Kishtwar”, sources said, adding “the intensity of non-seriousness can be gauged from the fact that Housing and Urban Development Department has not even prepared a formal proposal for Kishtwar”.
Admitting that there was pressing need for solid waste treatment plant, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kishtwar Development Authority Pawan Parihar said, “one treatment plant can meet the requirement of tourist spots under the jurisdiction of Authority as well as entire town”.
Even no proposal for solid waste treatment plant has been prepared for the areas under the jurisdiction of Rajouri Development Authority and presently bio-degradable waste is dumped at designated locations and the non bio-degradable waste is lifted by the urban local body, sources said.
Chief Executive Officer of Rajouri Development Authority Sher Singh admitted the requirement of such a plant and said, “proposal was prepared in this regard but what happened thereafter is not known”.
“Similarly, there is no solid waste treatment plant for the areas under the jurisdiction of Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority as a result of which environment of the area is under constant threat”, sources said, adding “Billawar-Duggan, Poonch and other Development Authorities are also in the dire need of such a facility so as to protect the environment from degradation”.
They said, “if the Government really wants to protect the environment of tourist destinations efforts should be made on war footing basis for establishment of plants for scientific disposal of solid waste otherwise situation would deteriorate in the coming years.