Srinagar: Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Friday said that Tosamaidan and Dodpathri in central Kashmir’s Budgam district would be developed as independent tourist destinations.
Replying to a query from former chief minister Omar Abdullah and MLA Beerwah over government’s plans for Tosamaidan and building of infrastructure, Mufti said financial support would be provided to local stakeholders for development of the place.
“Special focus would be given for the development of the roads and other basic infrastructure at Dodpathri and Tosamaidan, which will be developed as tourist destinations,” he said.
According to Mufti, huts of Gujjars at the places would be utilised for tourist activity in order to preserve the environment and provide livelihood opportunity to the locals.
“The detailed project report (DPR) for the destinations would be prepared by the government to develop these two places as best tourist destinations,” he said.
About 11,200-hectare Tosamaidan is a high-altitude meadow, which the Indian army has been using for artillery training since 1964.
However, in 2013 the public as well as the pro-freedom parties started demanding an end to the lease agreement that allowed the army to use the land.
The state government subsequently formed a committee to review the lease agreement. While neither the committee nor the government made any final declaration about the fate of the meadow, the army has stayed away from the firing range.
Since earlier this year, the state government has been hinting that the meadow would be developed as a tourist spot. In June, the chief minister had directed authorities to “integrate Tosamaidan with Dodpathri Development Authority so that the three destinations (Yusmarg, Dodpathri, and Tosmaidan) are promoted as a single circuit to give impetus to the enormous tourism potential of the central Kashmir district.”
Reportedly, the army has got “a couple of place” for carrying out the military activities that have been apparently barred at Tosamaidan.
Speaking in the House earlier, Omar said it was a difficult task to make the army vacate Tosamaidan.
“I want government’s assurance on how much time it will take to make the DPR and develop a road in Tosamaidan,” he said.
To this, Mufti said, “The roads in the area are in a bad condition. We will develop these places under public private partnership and develop Gujjar Kothas for the essential services. I want to assure that these places will be brought on the tourist map. We will make roadmap as both places are accessible and one can reach there in an hour from Srinagar.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, said Tosamaidan will be integrated with Dodpathri Tourism Development Authority for development of Tosmaidan-Dodpathri as an integrated tourist circuit.
Speaking in House on behalf of the Tourism Minister, he said the area has a “good potential” for tourism development and it “is in high focus” of the Tourism department for its development and promotion as “a star destination”.
Hanjura was replying to a question from Omar Abdullah.