Now, Govt To Lease Out Iconic Pahalgam Club

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Srinagar: The government has decided to lease out the iconic Pahalgam Club in the Lidder Valley to private players, a move which is feared to deprive state exchequer of another profit-earning resource in the tourism sector.

At a time when the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation is under scanner for alleged favoritism in  leasing-out of the recently developed food court at the Zero Bridge here to some influential businessmen, the JKTDC has come out with the formal proposal to outsource the Pahalgam Club.

Official documents reveal that the JKTDC has sought “Expression of Interest” for “Outsourcing Management and Operations of the Pahalgam Club and the Convention Center.” The process is underway.

Observers said being a profit earning landmark, there was no need to outsource the iconic facility to private players. “We don’t understand why this government is so interested in lease out of all profit earning units of JKTDC to private players,” said a senior official asking not to be identified.

Renovated at the cost of over Rs five crores, the club with upgraded facilities was last year thrown open by the then Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

On October 1, Mufti inaugurated the multiplex, and other hi-end facilities, at Pahalgam Club to attract high-end tourists to Kashmir.

Situated at the foothills of Pir Panchal mountains facing river Lidder, the upgraded club has a banquet hall, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a coffee shop, a four-lane bowling alley, swimming pools, separate gym for ladies and gents, a beauty parlour, a library cum reading room, 21 luxury suites and a showroom of Kashmiri artifacts and shawls. Two

bars have also been made available to cater to the potential customers.

A tourism official said the club has been equipped with a state-of-the-art first ever auditorium which can be used as a multiplex to watch movies depending upon the requirement.  “It can even be used for film premiers,” the officials said.

Officials said the upgradation was done to attract upscale tourists, including Bollywood celebrities to Kashmir.

But rumor mills had been rife since last year that the government had upgraded the facility only for outsourcing to some influential families close to the corridors of power.

Though initially the official machinery had said the there was no such proposal, this year calling of “expression of  interests” has made things clear.

The famed Pahalgam club was established in 1960s during Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, but was gutted down in 2005.

In March 2016, however, when the new government was formed, it took keen interest to gear up the work on the club with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed personally monitoring the work. Officials said it was only because of the personal efforts of Mufti that the facility became ready for use.

Earlier this month the JKTDC came under public scrutiny when the recently-constructed food court at the Zero Bridge was leased out to some influential business families without any requisite tendering.

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