Tourism Development Authorities in Jammu region don’t have Master Plans

Administrative Deptt only issuing letters, not resolving difficulties
Manpower shortage hampering routine maintenance

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Dec 5: The Tourism Development Authorities across the Jammu region don’t have Master Plans for holistic development of the areas under their jurisdiction mainly because the Administrative Department is only issuing letters on the subject instead of resolving difficulties in having blueprint in place. Moreover, acute shortage of manpower at the disposal of these Authorities is hampering even the routine maintenance works.
A Master Plan is a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. Master planning is about making the connection between buildings, social settings and their surrounding environments.
The purpose of a Master Plan is to promote growth and guide and regulate present and future development of the areas with a perspective of 20-25 years and such a plan is imperative for each and every tourist destination as tourism is now commonly viewed not only as a major source of employment but also as a tool for conservation and a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration.
“However, there is no Master Plan for any of the Tourism Development Authority in the Jammu region and in the absence of the same the development of the areas which fall under the jurisdiction of these Authorities is taking place in an unplanned manner”, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “the non-serious approach towards this important aspect is notwithstanding the fact that such a blue-print is imperative to have strategic vision and action plan for developing tourism in a sustainable manner for the benefit of local residents, investors and tourism operators”.
From time to time, directions were issued from the highest quarter in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir about preparation of Master Plan for each Tourism Development Authority. While most of the Tourism Development Authorities in the Kashmir valley either have the Master Plan in place or formulating the same, such Authorities in Jammu region are not showing any seriousness towards this aspect, sources informed.
“Some Tourism Development Authorities in the Jammu region initiated the exercise in consultation with J&K Town Planning Organization but the process could not reach the logical conclusion despite lapse of considerable period of time”, they disclosed, adding “this is mainly because the Tourism Department is only issuing communications to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of these Authorities on the formulation of Master Plan instead of trying to resolve the difficulties being faced by them”.
Had the Tourism Department been serious about this aspect it would have exerted enough pressure on the Tourism Development Authorities and would have provided them all sort of support in getting the blue-print prepared in a time bound manner, sources regretted.
EXCELSIOR contacted a number of officers of the Tourism Department to ascertain the reasons behind the dilly-dallying approach in preparation of Master Plan by every Tourism Development Authority but they preferred not to speak. “We have instructions from the top not to reveal anything to media”, they added.
“The Tourism Development Authorities are also facing acute shortage of manpower as a result of which even routine maintenance of the assets is suffering. This is notwithstanding the directions of the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha about proper maintenance of tourism properties so that they remain in impeccable condition throughout the year”, sources said.
Following reorganization of engineering wings of several departments and keeping them at the disposal of Roads and Buildings Department the Tourism Department has been left with no other option but to look at the R&B Department even for routine maintenance works, they further said, adding “the intensity of the prevailing situation can be gauged from the fact that majority of the Tourism Development Authorities don’t have even sufficient staff for upkeep of the assets and only few persons have been kept at the disposal of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) for handling all sorts of works”.
“Moreover, most of the Tourism Development Authorities don’t have even one Junior Engineer at their disposal for carrying out emergency repair works and every time they have to look at the Directorates of Tourism or the Roads and Buildings Department”, sources further informed.