Promotion of tourism sector in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmir Valley has been the slogan of all the government’s that have run the affairs of the state. One region which has been the frontrunner for grabbing the attention of planners is Gurez area of North Kashmir.
The beautiful and scenic valley of Gurez has attained strategic importance as it falls close to the Line of Control. However, the region is so gifted that it holds the attention of the viewer for months together as he captures the fresh and serene natural surroundings in his eyes.
Gurez is located about 123 kilometres to the north of Srinagar. Bandipore is the main town from where supplies come to Gurez. Lying in the lap of the Himalayas, Gurez Valley is a snow bound region where road connectivity remains cut off for six months.
Notably, much has been said about Gurez and promoting it as a tourism destination. Even the government claims upgrading the infrastructure in the pristine valley to augment its scenic beauty.
But what is missing on ground is that no development is taking place the way it should have been going on. What is visible on ground is the official neglect and apathy. Two months back the government announced direct and hassle-free flights to Gurez area. This was done as the area has a very poor road connectivity.
Officers of Tourism, Civil Aviation Departments and Pawan Hans Limited were convened to discuss the expansion of tourism infrastructure and issues pertaining to starting chopper services for Gurez area. The Tourism Department officials were asked to take all steps for promoting Gurez as a tourism destination in view of its scenic beauty.
Even officials were told to clear all the bottlenecks on starting the flights and wire fencing of Helipad at Gurez was also ensured to be complete at the earliest. The Tourism Department was asked to erect hoardings and signage at International Airport Srinagar and other prominent places to highlight the vast potential of Gurez Valley in a big way.
Even Gurez festival was organized some days back to attract more and more domestic as well as foreign tourists to the area.
But, all this has hardly bore any fruit as far as promoting Gurez on the tourism map is concerned. The life of the inhabitants has been made more difficult by the negligence of the Governmental authorities who have allowed the road from Bandipore to Gurez remain in a dilapidated condition. It is for years that the PWD has not done any repairing of the road and potholes have become the main features of this road.
Vehicular journey from Bandipore consumes three to four hours more owing to slow speed as the vehicles have to negotiate with recurring pot holes of the road. Local population has been making strong complain to authorities but with no impact. The people ask the question when the PWD takes proper care of other hilly roads in the State why it discriminates with the Gurez Valley, ignoring its pleas for proper and safe road connectivity.
The local administration and the Border Roads Organization are ignoring the fact that local people are facing great difficulties because of unworthiness of the only link road for safe vehicular transport.