Jammu & Kashmir: Admitted fact is that backbone of Jammu and Kashmir economy is tourism industry. It was hit hard with arms insurgency for the last two decades, thus causing starvation like situation across the state. Similar was outcome with dilemma of unrest for holy Amarnath pilgrimage. On the one hand government is spending countlessly for publicity of improved law and order situation, and about tourist destinations. And on the other hand preparations on the ground are disappointing. Even heaps of garbage, foul smells all around railway station, bus stand and cumbersome affairs at airport in Jammu, though situation in terms of cleanliness and welcome tourists preparations are a bit acceptablefor Kashmir due to presence of Darbar.
“We offer publicity through media advertisement and organize culture programmes to showcase the tourism and culture of region” Director Tourism Robbin Singh Mehta said. Replying to a query, Mehta said that cleanliness is the responsibility Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), whereas administration should look the allied affairs. Referring towards economic uncertainty, he said that Euro and Dollar rates had risen comparatively from the previous years so expectations are high that tourists of India who visit west would prefer Jammu and Kashmir under these circumstances. He informed that TRC Bani of estimated cost Rs 3.51 lakhs would be complete by May ending.
Talking about preparations for pilgrims, Mehta informed that Yatri Bhawan at Bhagwati Nagar would be complete with the month end and the facilities to be provided include accommodation, canteen, medical treatment, toilets, bath rooms and other allied requirements.
Commenting over issue Commissioner Secretary, Tourism, Atul Dullo said that most of the tourism of Jammu is pilgrimage tourism and is commencing round the year. However, cleanliness issue would be taken up with JMC authorities. He said all the facilities would be provided to pilgrims during ensuing pilgrimage and no stone would be left unturned in this regard for the better interest of pilgrims and smooth pilgrimage.
District Development Commissioner, Sanjeev Verma deliberating upon the issue said that everything is being looked into very seriously and there would be no compromise in providing better facilities to the tourists and pilgrims. In this connection, number of times communications has been sent to Director Tourism to identify unregistered lodges and lodges with complaints of overcharging so that strict action could be taken against them. Replying to a question, Verma said that those violating route permit guidelines and over charging mini-bus operators licensee and permits would be cancelled on verifying.
Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation, K. L Khajuria said that providing required facility to visitors and pilgrims is a joint effort of various departments. “We understand our responsibility and have started face-lifting and renovations of various temples and tourist attracting places” Khajuria said adding that in the areas like railway station, bus stand and Bhagwati Nagar efforts are being done to present attractive look to sooth pilgrims. He said JMC would dedicate 200 people across the city and about 50 people in Bhagwati Nagar area to ensure cleanliness.
It is important to mention that with the roads dug in the interiors of city and heaps of garbage engulfed with foul smell at entry points of tourists seems difficult to fascinate tourists and pilgrims. Going by the reports Shivkhori pilgrimage crossed 14.5 lakhs whereas Mata Vaishno Devi crossed one crore mark last year and for the current year only expectation are high but ground preparation needs a lot of attention to yield good results. Review meetings on every Friday and proposal on paper are of no use unless ground situation is analyzed. Would the officials at the helm of affairs take the clarion call or not, remains worth to watch.