‘Delhi Will Boost Kashmir’s Tourism, IT Sectors’24 November 2010
Srinagar: In a move to revive Kashmir’s industrial sector especially tourism and IT and to create job opportunities for youth, the Government of India has decided to take concrete steps to give fillip to tourism with special focus on building infrastructure. This was disclosed by C Rangarajan, Chairman Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council during his meeting with Kashmir’s tour operators, hoteliers, house boat owners and Federation of Chamber of Industries Kashmir. Rangarajan arrived in Srinagar along with five other members of the expert group formed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to suggest measures to address unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir. Rangarajan heads the expert group. Rouf Tramboo, President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir, presented a memorandum to the group. “We briefed the committee head about overall situation and the problems being faced by the tour operators and travel agents of Kashmir. We told them that inadequate tourism infrastructure was the main hurdle in improving the sector, which is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy,” he said. He said Rangarajan gave a patient hearing to them and assured all possible help. “He told us that the tourism industry of Kashmir was having a great potential and could absorb hundreds of unemployed youth,” Tramboo said, adding that tour operators had few months back held a meeting with the sub-committee comprising members from New Delhi. Sources said Rangarajan was directed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the feedback of all those who are related to tourism and other industries having potential of creating jobs for the unemployed youth. “I am sure that if Kashmir’s industries are dealt with properly, it could not only boost the economy of the State but also help create many jobs for unemployed youth,” a source quoted Rangrajan as saying. President House Boat Owners Association, Manzoor Ahmed Wangoo, who was also present in the meeting, said he raised issues being confronted by tour operators especially house boat owners. “I sought revival of water transport in Kashmir. I also demanded restoration of Srinagar-Jeddah flights from Srinagar International airport. I also told them that tourists after arrival at Srinagar airport get frightened after seeing large presence of troops there. I told the panel members that if tourists could visit conflict-ridden countries like Sri Lanka and middle-east especially Palestine and Israel, why not Kashmir,” he said. President FCIK Shakeel Qalander and many senior officials of the IT sector also briefed the committee members about the problems being faced by them. A noted economist, Prof Nisar Ali, who had briefed the industrialists about the points to be raised in the meeting, told Rising Kashmir that they had agreed to take up the issue of retrieving the Dulhasti and another power project with 1200 MW capacity from NHPC. “Besides, industrialists had agreed to discuss 50 to 55 new tourist destinations and revival of entire tourist infrastructure to woo more tourists. We had also decided to raise revival of apple industry as 30 per cent of Kashmir’s apple produce goes waste due to lack of proper cold storage facility in Valley. In other states, apples are used to make jams and juice,” he said. The industrialists also laid stress on various other sectors like power and sheep industry. “Rangarajan, noted down all points and assured full cooperation to all participants,” they said. Sources said Rangarajan would meet a few more delegations of trade unions tomorrow and later flew to Jammu to have deliberations with Jammu based tour operators, traders and industrialists. “Government of India would study the committee’s report thoroughly and accordingly sanction economic sops to generate employment in the state in various industrial sectors,” they said.