Tourism Stakeholders Demand End to Srinagar-Jammu Highway Mess

 Kashmir Highway- File Photo

Seek regulation of airfares on Srinagar sector

Srinagar: Various stakeholders of Kashmir’s tourism sector Thursday urged the visiting parliamentary delegation to impress upon the government of India to ensure highway uncertainty ends in the Valley once for all and that the air-travel is made more affordable with genuine fare structure in place so that tourism picks up in the region.

The stakeholders also demanded better roads and road connectivity if Government of India wants to give Kashmir tourism a boost stating that frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway is the main reason for “mess” in Valley at a time when tourism needs a push.

After meeting the delegation, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries (KKCI) President Sheikh Ashiq Hussain said: “We put across our view point before the committee and we are hopeful that they will take our pleas forward. We demanded an end to the frequent Srinagar-Jammu highway closure once for all. The highway closure triggers mess across the Valley. As soon as the highway gets closed, the air fares go up. We urged the MPs to ensure that air travel is made convenient so that it will become easier for everyone to travel. Despite repeated promises by the previous regimes and officials on improving the highway condition, we see closure of this only road link again and again. We demand there should be accountability and punishment to the agencies and officials who fail to meet the deadlines,” according to news agency KNO.

MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh and NC president and sitting MP Dr Farooq Abdullah were also present at the meeting.

According to the president Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association Hameed Wangnoo: “We detailed series of issues confronting the houseboat owners. We also presented a memorandum. Every year such delegations come, but so far nothing except assurance is what we get. Let's hope this time, our demands are met. We demanded a direct rail link between Srinagar and Jammu and raised the issue of high air-fare in the Srinagar sector. We told them that Srinagar-Delhi airfare is so high that a tourist would think twice about visiting Kashmir. When the highway gets closed, air-fares go sky-rocket, which is injustice.”

All J&K Shikara Union President Ghulam Ahmed Kolu said that they explained the plight of Shikara owners to the MPs stating that all the promises made to them so far have turned out to be hollow. “We have now demanded soft loans to revive our business so that tourists enjoy Shikara rides in Dal and Nigeen lakes,” he said.

Chairman United Tourism Forum Manzoor Ahmed Pakhtoon, who also met the visiting delegation said that they briefed the MPs about the issues confronting tourism, culture and transport. “We told the MPs that tourism has suffered for the past 30 years. We have been frequently telling the GoI about the series of problems the tourism sector is facing.

We told the delegation that people associated with tourism are on the verge of starvation and grant-in aid or a financial package was what we demanded strongly for tourism revival in Kashmir,” he said. “We also raised the houseboat extinction issue as from 2500 houseboats, the present number is just 950."

Meanwhile BJP delegation comprising MoS PMO Dr Jitendera Singh and MP Raju Pratab Roddy met the visiting parliamentary delegation in Srinagar and demanded a permanent resolution to Srinagar-Jammu highway issue and redressal of skyrocketing air fares so that tourism is promoted in Kashmir. The delegation assured the BJP leaders that they will take up the matter with concerned quarters.

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