March 2016 News

Kashmir Continues To Get Lion's Share; Jammu, Ladakh Crying For Attention

15 March 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: Notwit-hstanding repeated concerns of people of Jammu and Ladakh regions over allocation of inadequate funds, Kashmir valley received lion's share even during the PDP-BJP Coalition Government, which during its short stint stepped into the shoes of the previous dispensations and allowed discrimination to continue with these two regions. This can be gauged from the funds earmarked for the three regions of the State in the tourism sector during the State Sector Capex Budget for the financial year 2015-16. The discrimination in the allocation of funds is notwithstanding the fact that in Jammu region huge infrastructure is required to be created to attract tourists in view of limited natural bounties in comparison to Kashmir valley, which is already blessed with everything from natural beauty to the moderate climate. The creation of Tourism Development Authorities in Jammu and Ladakh regions some years back had generated hope among the people about increase in tourism activities in these parts of the State as the mandate of these authorities was to create adequate facilities and open up more areas for the tourists. However, the hopes were dashed as none of the dispensation in the State ever tried to make equitable or rational allocation of funds for these Tourism Development Autho-rities. Even the previous PDP-BJP Coalition Government, which right from the day one of assuming power started making statements about treating all the regions equally, failed to provide justice to Jammu and Ladakh regions and discrimination continued unabated. As per the details available with EXCELSIOR, for Tourism Jammu, only Rs 872.75 lakh was granted under Regular Schemes as against Rs 2224.75 lakh to Tourism Kashmir. The discrimination with the Tourism Development Authorities of Jammu and Ladakh surpassed all the records as barring one or two authorities of Jammu region, the allocation to all other authorities in Ladakh and Jammu was such that these funds were not sufficient to maintain the existing facilities what to talk of creating new ones. For Patnitop Development Authority an amount of Rs 262 lakh was earmarked while as for Pahalgam Development Auth-ority an amount of Rs 450 lakh was kept in the State Sector Capex Budget. For Gulmarg Development Authority, Sonam-arg Development Authority and Kokernag Development Autho-rity an amount of Rs 326.25 lakh, Rs 300 lakh and Rs 225 lakh respectively was earmarked. Similarly, an amount of Rs 200 lakh was kept for Yousmarg Development Authority, Rs 110 lakh for Aharbal Development Authority, Rs 145 lakh for Manasbal Development Autho-rity, Rs 180 lakh for Verinag Development Authority and Rs 150 lakh for Doodhpathri Development Authority. However, for Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority, which was established to create required number of facilities for the tourists visiting twin important lakes of Jammu, only Rs 140 lakh was sanctioned while as Tourism Development Autho-rities of Bhaderwah, Rajouri, Kishtwar, Poonch and Lakhanpur-Sarthal were given only Rs 110 lakh each. As far as Ladakh region is concerned, Zanaskar Develo-pment Authority was given Rs 145 lakh while as the Development Authorities of Leh and Kargil were given only Rs 110 lakh each. What to talk of Development Authorities, the discrimination was allowed even in the allocation of funds for the golf courses. For Royal Springs Golf Course, an amount of Rs 225 lakh was kept in the State Sector Capex Budget but for the Jammu Tawi Golf Course an amount of only Rs 145 lakh was provided. How can more tourists be attracted in Jammu region when the allocation for the Tourism Development Authorities continued to be meager, sources wondered, adding 'there is a need to change the yardstick for making allocation and those areas, which are lacking adequate facilities should be given sufficient funds otherwise tourism promotion would continue to remain a dream particularly in Jammu region'.

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