Saturday, June 27, 2009

19th Century Hari Parbat Fort a new window for heritage tourists

Culture travelers will revel J&K’s historical past

Minister for Tourism and Culture Mr. Nawang Rigzin Jora has stated that the government has gone into overdrive to showcase J&K’s rich heritage so that a new window is opened for the visitors coming to the State. He said measures are afoot to bring all heritage sites on the tourism map of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Jora was speaking during his visit to the majestic Hari Parbat Fort, at Srinagar today.

Expressing his deep love for cross-cultural plurality of the State, Mr. Jora said artistic richness of under-renovation Mubarak Mandi Complex in Jammu, Hari Parbat in Kashmir and Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh are apt indicators of J&K homogeneity.

The Hari Parbat Fort edifice, built by Afghan Governor in 1808, Atta Mohammad Khan, is the only living fort in Kashmir, believed to be 209 years old.

Mr. Jora said several heritage sites, spread across the State, depict cultural richness of the State that could be brought on the canvas of the tourism potential.

Hari Parbat Fort, a state protected monument, is being developed as a heritage site and since 2006, work on its conservation and development has been going on. Out of an estimated Rs 2.13 crore, Rs 1.39 crore has been spent on its development so far.

The conservation work includes restoration of pristine glory of the monument so that it emerges as an epitome of Kashmiri heritage magnificence. Firmly entrenched in the past, the fort can attract large number of domestic as well as international tourists.

Reemphasizing his commitment to link Kashmir’s past with present by persevering heritage sites and working on their upkeep, Mr. Jora said instructions have been issued to concerned authorities to fast-track conservation and protection of historical monuments and sites. He said fillip in state’s tourism economy is embedded in linking it with cultural distinctiveness of the State, which can attract domestic, foreign and Indian diaspora to the State.

The Minister went round the heritage fort and took on-spot-assessment of renovation works. He issued instructions for ensuring completion of remaining works and regular upkeep within and outside the fort premises. He directed for early renovation work of all ponds for harvesting rainwater.

Mr. Jora also issued instructions to the concerned authorities to initiate necessary measures for taking up works like landscaping, development of open space, public facilities, illumination in and outside the fort, installation of light and sound system and upgrdation of approach road from main road to the fort.

Director, Archives and Museum Mr. K. A. Qadri briefed the Minister about various conservation and renovation works taken up on the fort. He apprised the Minister that this fort is spread over an area of 200 kanal with nine watch towers and numerous battlements. He said about 80 per cent conservation work of the fort has been completed and assured the Minister that the remaining work would be completed by the end of September.

The Minister also inspected renovation work of Sultan Dara Shuko Hamam at Muqdoom Sahib. He was apprised by Director Tourism, Kashmir, Mr. Farooq Ahmad Shah that the conservation work of this heritage site has been taken up at a cost of Rs 22 lakh and would be completed by the end of this year.

Other senior officers of Archives and Tourism departments also accompanied the Minister.

Omar for pilot projects for harnessing solar energy

J&K can benefit by latest technology in the field’

Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah has called for exploring possibilities of harnessing solar energy in feasible areas to create alternate energy service hubs so that electricity is provided in rural areas. To start with, he directed for formulation of four pilot projects, one each at Jammu, Kashmir, Leh and Kargil for government’s approval.

The Chief Minister was taking a brief about possibilities and advantages of harnessing solar energy in J&K for power generation. The presentation was made by Mr. Tushar Chawla and Mr. Raouf Javid from ELP and Bergen Corporation, here this afternoon.

It was stated that Union Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MN&RE) will provide financial assistance to the State government for launching the programme. Such projects are also being aided by international agencies, it was added.

The Chief Minister said after assessing the success in the projects of 10 KW each for harnessing solar energy, the programme can be extended for covering all model villages where this system would be used as backup for conventional electric supply service.

Mr. Abdullah said electrification in rural areas, especially in remote pockets and hamlets, the generation of solar energy could prove highly beneficial and economically viable.

It was stated in the meeting that the Union Ministry of N&RE provides assistance to the State government for research and development, demonstration, testing, standardization and industrial promotion in the sector. The Ministry is also subsidizing loan schemes to promote installation of solar water heating system in homes, hotels, hospitals, industrial units and commercial establishments. It is also providing capital subsidy to those who do not avail loan facility.

The Ministry of N&RE is also providing soft loans for manufacturing of solar water heating systems for projects involving improvement in technology and expansion in production facilities.

The meeting was informed that J&K can utilize solar photovoltaic technology for providing electricity for lighting, running water pumps, charging batteries, feeding power to the grid while as solar thermal technology can be utilized for heating water for industrial and domestic usage, heating and cooling of buildings, food processing, cooking, disinfecting and desalinizing water.

In the power-point presentation, the success of 10 KW solar power project launched in village of Ranchi, inhabited by 70 households, was exhibited and the technology including economic involvement in this project was explained in detail.