SRINAGAR: Identifying tourism as a major thrust area for her party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, Saturday said with proper planning it could be a real engine for economic growth of the state and provide enormous employment opportunities.
Addressing a number of meetings in Bijbehara Assembly segment of South Kashmir, she said optimum and sustainable utilization of our resources alone can offer economic self reliance and prosperity to the state.
“Unfortunately implementation of the vision rolled out in 2002 by the PDP on tourism, like many other sectors, was not carried forward leading to swelling of the numbers of unemployed and frustrated youth” Mehbooba added.
Mehbooba said Jammu and Kashmir is a unique tourism product which could be leveraged to the benefit of every single individual living here but for achieving that it was necessary to drastically modernize the infrastructure. She said unless we upgrade the infrastructure tourism will remain confined mainly to low spending groups which would be a gross underutilization of our strength and potential.
Mehbooba said new areas identified by the previous government and brought under Tourism Development Authorities have almost been abandoned with a free for all unregulated construction, turning some of them into virtual urban centres or even worse, slums. She said the concretization of Kashmir needs to be reversed, constructions regulated and green areas saved from urbanization.
Mehbooba said a proper land utilization plan will have to be devised and strictly implemented to prevent degeneration of our natural assets and balance the needs for development with requirements of ecology and environment. She said it was almost criminal to let a beautiful place like Kashmir convert into a concrete jungle only because no government has ever gone beyond a superficial approach to major concerns about sustainability of private and government development process.
“Corruption at every level is being patronized at the cost of the future of this state and its people, especially the younger generation, which is destroying the scenic splendour of almost every place. That will have to be arrested,” said Mehbooba.
Mehbooba said the PDP has plans to promote eco friendly tourism projects and encourage high end tourism that would bring in much higher returns for same product that at present is virtually sold for peanuts.
Mehbooba said one of the major achievements of the PDP led government in 2002 was the dramatic revival of tourism.
She said the party had been able to convince the outside world that Kashmir was the same hospitable place, a tourist destination for centuries and our credibility worked even with the NDA government of the time which helped with special packages for hoteliers, house boat owners, boat men and pony owners.
Reiterating the resolve of her party to address the issues of the people Mehbooba said the PDP is committed to overall development of the state and equal share to all areas, regions, sub-regions especially far-flung areas.
On the occasion senior party leader, Abdul Rehman Veeri, MLA, was also present.