Railways to boost tourism

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has had a meeting with the Chief Minister and many important decisions were taken by the two in the course of their deliberations. A handout of the Ministry of Railways says that the Railways Minister has agreed to introduce three more trains from three different destinations of the country, namely Mumbai, Hyderabad and Howrah to Katra in Jammu in view of the pilgrim rush to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. We welcome the decision and would insist on the Railways Minister to add two more rail connections from Pune and Bangalore to Katra which will ultimately extend to Srinagar.
It is good that the CM has raised the issue of Indian Railways making a point to support promotion of tourism to Kashmir both in summer and in winter. For summer pilgrimage there is ever increasing number of pilgrims seen inching their way up the hill here the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi rests. She emphasized that the railways could give assent to installing stalls of Kashmir products like items of handicrafts, paper mashie, wood carving, embroidery, and hand made products like shawls and jamwar meaning the beautifully embroidered shawl sides, dry fruit, cricket bats and many more items of Kashmir specialty. The Chief Minister expressed her deep interest in railways becoming a catalyst to external tourists coming to Kashmir for winter tourism which in itself has great charms. She suggested that railway coaches with glass tops could be introduced on Banihal -Baramulla circuit so that tourists are able to enjoy the lush green nature in its abundance on both sides of the railway track between Banihal and Baramulla. More stations are proposed to be opened on the railway track within the Valley. In short, we appreciate that the Railway Minister has evinced keen interest in not only extending railway connectivity to the Valley but also finding ways how railways can boost tourism industry of the State. These are very progressive and people-oriented proposals and people in the State will welcome them.
However, while we are talking about rail connectivity to the Valley, it is pertinent that we invite the attention of the Railway Minister to the survey conducted by the railways for laying rail track between Jammu and Poonch via Rajouri. It is a very vital link in terms of strategic importance of the two border districts of Poonch and Rajouri. We have a large population of the Gujjars and Bakerwals living on the heights of these two border districts. Their role as nationalists is well establishes.  These elements have to be provided generous space so that they also become beneficiaries of the largesse of the Government of India. Rail connectivity will facilitate them immensely to opt for interaction with the Gujjar community outside the State and thus strengthen national solidarity.


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