Surinsar-Mansar, Billawar-Duggan areas remain victim of Govt apathy

No progress on Rs 54 cr project for Parmandal, Utterbehni
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU,  Apr 16: Contrary to the tall claims of the present regime about paying due attention towards the tourist spots of Jammu region, Surinsar-Mansar and Billawar-Duggan areas have remained victim of Government’s apathy and slackness is prevailing on strict and timely implementation of decisions about creation of recreational facilities and other infrastructure at these places.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, while chairing the Governing Body meeting of Surinsar-Mansar and Billawar-Duggan Tourism Development Authorities on July 8, 2017, had issued directions for pacing up of works at the tourist destinations of Surinsar and Mansar as these places are central to the tourist circuit of Jammu and could easily be co-opted into Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism given their close proximity to the winter capital of the State.
However, ongoing developmental works could not be completed in all respect within the stipulated time-frame for one or the other reason as a result of which promoting these places for MICE tourism has remained a dream, sources said while disclosing that Surinsar doesn’t have budgeted accommodation even for a small group of tourists what to talk of promoting MICE tourism there.
“At Surinsar there is only three-bed Dak Bungalow, which too lack all the facilities required for the comfortable stay of tourists”, sources said, adding “in the year 2013 a proposal for making available budgeted accommodation was mooted under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme but due to dilly-dallying approach of the concerned authorities no progress could be made till the Union Government concludes the scheme”.
In the Governing Body meeting of Surinsar-Mansar Tourism Development Authority it was informed that Surinsar Park would be ready by December 2017 while as the Amphitheatre would be ready by March 2018 in all respect. However, neither park nor Amphitheatre could serve the purpose behind their planning, sources said.
“There are no amusement facilities as well tuck shop in the Surinsar Park, which otherwise are imperative for the attraction and stay of the tourists”, they informed, adding “Amphitheatre is ready but electrical works are still pending due to poor response to the tenders. Even if the Amphitheatre is completed in all respect in near future it will not serve the purpose of prolonging the stay of the tourists for want of accommodation”.
The Chief Minister had also directed for exploring the possibility of starting boat rides in the Surinsar lake on the pattern of Mansar lake and to give practical shape to this decision Mehbooba Mufti had asked the Tourism and Wildlife Departments to undertake joint surveys.
“As Surinsar lake is under the control of Wildlife Department a request was made for grant of permission for start of boat service. Even a report was prepared by the Regional Wildlife Warden and submitted to the senior authorities in the shortest possible time but nothing happened thereafter as a result of which the decision of the Chief Minister has remained confined to the papers only”, sources further informed.
“In the absence of accommodation for tourists and recreational facilities how Surinsar can be promoted as tourist destination remains a million dollar question”, sources said, adding “non-seriousness on the part of the Tourism Department has also created obstacles in developing tented accommodation for high end tourists at Mansar”.
In the Governing Body meeting, it was decided that Rs 54.70 crore heritage project for Parmandal and Utterbehni will be vigorously pursued for early approval. “However, the fate of this decision is also hanging in balance due to absolute non-seriousness on the part of Tourism Department”, sources said.
They disclosed that INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) had long time back prepared a vision document for both the religious places and submitted the same to the Tourism Department for approval but after sleeping over the proposal for quite long time the Tourism Department has now suggested environment impact assessment of the proposed project.
“Nobody knows when this proposal will become a reality as on one side there are funds constraints with the Tourism Department and on the other side the proposal has not been incorporated in any of the Central Scheme for tourism sector”, they said.
Similar is the fate of the decisions vis-à-vis Billawar-Duggan Tourism Development Authority. “There is no substantial progress on decisions regarding setting up of eco-friendly huts, mud huts, adventure sports like para-gliding”, sources informed.


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