SRINAGAR: Rural development minister Abdul Haq Khan said on Monday that several tourist spots in the Valley have been spoiled by the people of Kashmir themselves.
“Dil ki bhaat keh raha hoon, bohat saree jagahae yahan pae hum nay kharaab ki hae (These are the words from my heart… there are many places which we have spoiled),” Khan told reporters.
When asked who he meant by “we”, Khan said “the people of Kashmir”.
However, when Khan was asked by concerns raised by environmentalists over the impact of Amarnath Yatra on fragile ecosystems in Sonmarg and Amarnath, he refused to comment.
Khan blamed “unplanned development, use of polythene and carelessness of people” for the degradation of tourist spots.
“But now in one of our initiatives we have planned to make Kashmir polythene free. The government has tasked the state administration in all the three regions of the state to prevent people from using polythene. Besides the government has also ordered officials at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda toll posts to stop the entry of polythene in the state,” Khan said.
When asked how his ministry planned to make the state polythene free as the previous government’s too had announced similar plans but failed to achieve it, the minister refused to comment.
The minister later asked people for their cooperation to make state polythene free.
Khan also said that the first challenge he faced as minister was to clear the inherited liability of about Rs 400 crore under MGNREGA scheme, which had not been paid by the previous government led by Omar Abdullah.
“People had lost faith in the system and were refusing to work. But I was not only successful in getting these liabilities cleared, but also kick-started new initiatives with assured funding and got Rs 2,000 crore for the current fiscal. I have also given a 25% hike this year to about 400 MGNREGA workers,” Khan added.
When asked what was the reason for this huge liability, Khan said, “I don’t want to fall into controversies… ask them yourself.”