Tourism Outlays Puncture Govt’s Equitable Dev Balloon

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Observer News Service

Srinagar – Belying its own claims of equitable development of all the regions, the National Conference-led coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir has its pants down,
when it comes to allocating the plan funds for this fiscal for the key tourism sector of Kashmir division.

In a brazen example of discrimination, regionalism and vote bank politics, the Tourism department has allotted more than Rs eight crore, out of Kashmir division’s total plan outlay of about Rs 23 crore to the concerned minister’s home district, Leh.

An order to the effect has been issued vide No 421-TSM of 2012 dated September, 2012. Sources said the decision about the allocations had been taken at a recent meeting of the state cabinet chaired by the chief minister, Omar Abdullah.

Official sources said out of a total projected state plan outlay of Rs 22.57 crore for fiscal 2012-13 for entire Kashmir division, department has earmarked Rs 8.20 crore to Leh district alone, leaving Rs 13.26 crore for remaining 11 districts.

On the face of it, each of the 11 districts of Kashmir division get an average allocation of Rs 1.30 crore out of the total outlay of Rs 13.26 crore, while the Tourism minister’s home district, Leh, gets a whopping Rs 8.20 crore.  
 
Surprisingly, to complete the “shameful script” of the tourism minister, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Kargil district, which is a part of Ladakh region, has been provided a token outlay of Rs 25 lakh, a senior official, pleading anonymity, told Kashmir Observer. 

An amount of about Rs 1.2 crore has been earmarked for common schemes, which according to sources, is to be utilized on various activities during the annual Amarnath Yatra, which for several years past has been clubbed with tourism outlays.

Pertinently, the tourism plan for financial year 2012-13 approved by the cabinet has been devised by the state government involves construction, renovation and creation of tourist infrastructure at tourist destinations apart from conservation of heritage sites across the state.

“Unless the tourism minister is ignorant about the significance of the Kashmir valley as a world-famous tourist destination, one would expect him to be alive to the requirement of tourism infrastructure at the countless places which have been crying for it to attract more and more visitors from all over the globe. The valley still has scores of virgin spots with huge potential as tourist destinations,” a tourist guide, Ghulam Muhammad of Dalgate, told Kashmir Observer. 

Sources were silent over the outlays provided for Jammu region as a whole and for each of its 10 districts.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to defend the indefensible, Kashmir’s director tourism, Talat Parvez, said the plan was not based on regional considerations. “It is funding for different projects in the state and in the city have been allocated Rs 13 crore by the central government for five different tourism projects,” he said, adding the state plan had been devised for such projects where the centre did not provide any support.. (With inputs from KNS)

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