Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Joint teams on final assessment visits of Pahalgam track

To have a final assessment of the critical stretches on the traditional track to Shri Amarnathji Cave Shrine, from Sheshnag to Panchtarni, a high level joint team of the State Administration and the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board surveyed the Mahagunus Top, Wavbal, Poshpathri and the two main camps of Sheshnag and Panchtarni this morning and took stock of the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the Yatra.

Another Team is scheduled to visit the entire traditional track tomorrow morning for making a conclusive recommendation to the Governor and Chairman of the SASB, Mr N N Vohra, to enable him to arrive at a practical decision regarding the commencement of the Yatra after taking into consideration the ground situation and the reports of the District Administration, Anantnag and the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering (JIM). The teams from the JIM and the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) have undertaken extensive recce of the track during the past two weeks.

Sh. B. B. Vyas, Chief Executive Officer, SASB, recognising that significant work on the track had yet to be done by the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), particularly on the snow avalanche portion between Sheshnag and Panchtarni, gave on the spot instructions for engaging additional 300 labourers to supplement the efforts of the PDA in clearing snow on the critical patches within the next two days. He said that two teams of trained mountaineers of theJammu and Kashmir Police would be stationed at Wavbal and Poshpathri, on the two sides of the Mahagunus Top, to provide the much needed assistance to Yatris in shape of mobile rescue squads to provide rescue support, at short notice, whenever required. “Positioning of the rescue teams has been necessitated in view of the critical condition of the frozen snow track,” the CEO added.

The Joint Team took a detailed review of the arrangements and positioning of various essential services at the enroute camps. While 900 tents, 10 shops, 9 huts, 80 toilets and four langars have become functional at Sheshnag, the tenting colony and other utility services have also been put in place at Panchtarni, which include 750 tents, 80 toilets and four langars.

The team impressed upon the Yatra Officers and theCamp Directors of the SASB to have double-fly tents, with appropriate matting, pitched in view of the extreme cold and unpredicted weather conditions.

The Team walked a considerable distance on the snow-clad track and took stock of the clearance work, which had got impeded due to the accumulated snow, intermittent fresh snow and rains during the past two weeks.

The Joint Team also visited the Holy Cave and the Baltal Base Camp to review the arrangements, as the Yatra is progressing on this route for the past nearly one week. Necessary instructions were given to the local officers of the State Administration and the Board for taking effective measures to regulate the Yatra and to monitor the functioning of various service providing departments and organizations. The team appreciated the high level of synergy between various utility departments and the Board.

After having another reconnaissance tomorrow, the Joint Team will submit a final report to the Chairman for taking a decision on starting the Yatra on this route as well. The Yatra commenced from the Baltal route from 17th June.

A Spokesman of the SASB indicated that all necessary measures like regulated pilgrim traffic will be ensured on the Pahalgam route when it is thrown open. The Yatris are being regularly advised to carry adequate woolen clothing, a small umbrella, raincoat, waterproof shoes, torch, a stick, cap, gloves, jacket, woolen socks and trousers. These are essential as the climate is unpredictable, particularly in view of the unprecedented inclement weather in the past two weeks, which can recur any time. The temperature sometimes falls in the area to 5 degree Celsius. For ladies, sari is not a suitable dress for the Yatra. Salwar Kameez, pant-shirt or a track suit will be more comfortable for Yatris of both sexes.

Meanwhile, 10,692 Yatris performed darshan at the Holy Cave Shrine yesterday, while another batch of over 8,000 pilgrims left the Baltal Base camp for the Holy Cave early this morning. A batch of 2,073 Yatris also left Jammu for Baltal this morning. In all, till today morning 67,388 Yatris had done darshan at the Holy Shrine.

Rs 50 cr mega tourism projects for J&K on anvil: Union Secy

Union Secretary of Tourism Mr. S. Banerjee has said that two mega projects would be taken up at a cost of Rs 50 crore for upgradation of tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir. In this regard he asked the concerned authorities to prepare the project reports of the tourist destinations where the infrastructure is required to be upgraded.

The funds would be released for early execution of these mega projects soon after receipt of the project reports by the Centre.

Mr. Banerjee, who arrived here today for 3-day tour of the state to take stock of physical and financial achievement registered under tourism sector, being executed under 12 tourism development authorities at a cost of Rs 240 crore, today chaired a high level meeting of officers of tourism department.

The Union Secretary stressed for expediting the upgradation works of tourism related infrastructure taken executed under Prime Ministers Re-construction Programme in the state. He impressed upon the concerned authorities to complete under execution mini and mega projects taken up for the development of tourism infrastructure at various tourist destinations, besides conservation and preservation of heritage sites in the state well in time. He said funds already released by Central government should be utilized in a proper way for the purpose.

Mr. Banerjee said that projects reports for taking up new works under PMs Package should be formulated and submitted to the Union Ministry well in time for its early approval. He assured that central tourism ministry was keen to take all necessary measures for tapping varied tourism potential of the state.

Secretary, State Tourism Department, Mrs Tanvir Jehan gave a power point presentation, detailing the achievements registered under 12 centrally-aided TDAs. She briefed the Union Secretary about various developmental activities being taken by the government for promoting tourism in the state. She said that out of Rs 115.72 crore released under PM’s Package, Rs 61 crore have been expended till date on development of tourism infrastructure in the state.

Mrs. Tanvir Jehan requested Union Secretary for grant of additional funds for publicity campaign, organization of tourism marts and festivals in and outside the country besides promotion of adventure tourism in the state. She also pleaded for early approval of pending projects submitted by State Government to the Union Ministry of Tourism for funding.

Director Tourism Kashmir, Mr. Farooq Ahmad Shah, Director Tourism Jammu, Mr. S. M. Sahni, Managing Director JKTDC, Mr. R. A.Qadri, Managing Director Cable Car Project, Mr. Farooq Ahmad Khan, Chief Executive Officers of all development authorities besides senior officers of the department attended the meeting.