Dispelling the apprehension that Jammu could lose focus after direct rail connectivity to Katra, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Sunday assured that an appropriate strategy has been devised to create attractive assets in and around the winter capital to sustain tourist footfall, which has a direct bearing on trade and business of the city. He described Jammu as a repository of rich heritage reflected in its historic temples and monuments. “Jammu has its own significance. “We will create new areas of attraction to make the stay of the visitors in Jammu memorable,” he stated. The Chief Minister made these remarks immediately after inaugurating the River Tawi Front Park, here today. Besides Speaker of the J&K Legislative Assembly, Kavinder Gupta, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh and Minister for PHE, I&FC, Sukhnandan Kumar were also present on the occasion. Elaborating upon various measures afoot to position Jammu as a leisure and heritage destination, Mufti Sayeed referred to Mubarak Mandi Complex, which previously housed the State Legislature, as a heritage treasure that has a huge potential to attract art lovers both from within and outside the country. He said the work on the execution of Jammu Ropeway shall be expedited, which will also come as a shot in the arm for Jammu tourism. He also highlighted several other measures taken to diversify tourism-related activities in Jammu region at places such as Ranjit Sagar and Baghliar Dams, Sanasar, Marwah, Warwan, Bhaderwah and Jai. The Chief Minister, in his meeting with Union Tourism Minister yesterday, had raised the issue of fast-tracking the work on conservation of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex. The Ministry has assured that a Central team will visit the summer capital soon to assess the progress of work on the project. Emphasising upon development of more parks alongside River Tawi front in the city, the Chief Minister said Jammu tourism will receive fillip once the Artificial Lake project will be completed. “Jammu is the City of Templesand government will leave no stone unturned to project it as an independent destination,” he assured. River Tawi Front Park has been set up on 25 kanals of reclaimed land transferred by I&FC Department to Tourism Department and constructed at a cost of Rs. 5.50 crore, which includes Rs.1 crore additionality for damage sustained in 2014 floods. Highlighting the significance of good connectivity across the state, the Chief Minister said while the rail connectivity up to Katra has given impetus to pilgrim tourism, simultaneously widening and up-gradation of road connectivity has been taken up on a major scale to make the travel pleasurable and memorable an experience for the visitors. He also said there is no reason to harbour apprehension that the footprint of tourists to Patnitop will get considerably reduced due to the realignment of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. “Patnitop is a breathtakingly captivating destination, where people will continue to make a beeline,” he said, adding that the resort would be promoted as a premier leisure destination for MICE and golfing. Referring to the government’s plans to create tourism infrastructure in PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode, Mufti Sayeed said Ranjit Sagar Dam in Basohli will be developed as a prestigious tourist resort in Jammu region. He said some places in Jammu which are as beautiful and mesmerizing as some of the fabled resorts in Kashmir valley, will be brought on the tourism map of the state. The Chief Minister had earlier announced creation of a new Basohli Tourism Development Authority to give focussed attention to the development of Ranjit Sagar Dam as the ‘Gateway’ to Jammu Tourism. Besides the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for PHE, I&FC and MLA Jammu East, Rajesh Gupta, also spoke on the occasion. Later, the Chief Minister arrived at Jammu Tawi Golf Course at Sidhra and distribution prizes amongst the winners of the Chief Minister’s Golf Cup. The tourney was teed off by Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, today morning. Speaking after the prize distribution ceremony, Mufti Sayeed highlighted the potential of promoting J&K as a golfing destination for high-end visitors. He asked the Tourism Department to organize a series of inter and intra-state as well as civil-military tournaments to popularize Jammu Tawi course as a major golfing destination. While as Vikram Kapoor was declared overall winner of the Chief Minister’s Golf Cup, Arun Sharma emerged as the Runner Up in the tournament. T. S. Wazir won the first prize in the senior category while Col. Jamwal won a special prize for his straight drive during the tournament. Also present were MLC, Ramesh Arora, Divisional Commissioner, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Secretary PHE, I&FC, Pervez Malik, Secretary Tourism, Farooq A. Shah and Director Tourism, Jammu, R. K. Verma.
2015 Kashmir Despatch