Budgam: The scenic meadow, Yousmarg, located amid lofty snow clad mountains in Pirpanchal forest range is thronged by tourists and trekkers who prefer a less crowded place. However, locals and visitors are lamenting the apathy of Tourism department and Yousmarg Development Authority (YDA) towards the place, which they say is not only marring the tourism prospects of the place, but also leaving the visitors in distress.
The place lacks basic services like ATM, telecom and internet services, car parking, thus turning back many tourists who would have otherwise stayed longer.
The locals dependent on tourism said that due to lack of facilities the place was witnessing lesser rush of tourists than the past.
“Earlier, this place was of great tourist significance which is diminishing day by day because the approach of tourism authorities towards the place is not good,” a ponywala at the resort said. “We provide horses at very low cost as our business is down and we are not able to earn to feed our families, if the place will remain in a same condition days are not far that we will shun this trade”.
Without ATM and internet in 21st century, the business of hoteliers and other establishments is suffering badly.
“Most of the time our hotel rooms are without booking because there are hell number of problems in the area, there is no ATM faility, no internet service, as some of the tourists are following the cashless dream of incumbent government who had failed to provide these facilities to the tourists” Rafiq Ahmad and Aijaz Ahmad, owners of Sharief Guest House said.
Planning Manager, Reliance Jio (Kashmir division) Showkat Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that they had applied for space from YDA for a tower but were refused.
“If YDA gives us space for the tower we are ready to install the tower for the convenience of the people who are visiting the place,” Ahmad said.
The place also lacks medical facilities, and for minor injuries people have to visit Pakherpora, which is around 10 kilometres from the place. For major complaints people have to visit Sub District Hospital which is 18 kilometres away.
Block Medical Officer, Dr Mastoora Iqbal, said that they don’t have accommodation in Yousmarg to run medical camp and no department was ready to provide them accommodation.
“See my team needs space where they can stay during the night and no one is ready to give us space, that’s why we don’t run medical camp at Yousmarg, but in Nagabal which is 3-4 kilometers away from Yousmarg, we have a PHC which is functioning properly,” Dr Masooda said.
On top of it, YDA charges the visitors Rs 50 rupees as entry fees, even for the motorcyclists.
“I am frequent traveler who every year almost visit every tourist spot, I have never seen motorcyclists paying entry fees and that too such huge which becomes burden for everyone” Tariq Ahmad Who hails from Srinagar said.
“See, when we come outing, after spending so much money why can’t we pay 50 rupees for entry fees but the place is in a such a bad condition that even 10 rupees seems a big amount” another visitor Umer from Pulwama said.
CEO YDA Gulzar Ahmad refused to answer questions from Kashmir Reader about lack of facilities at the place. Instead he threatened this reporter with an FIR.
“Who are you to ask me these questions. I am not supposed to answer you,” Gulzar Ahmad told this reporter at his office at Charari Sharief.
Yousmarg is also known as the trekkers’ paradise because the trekkers can trek to the Tosamaidan, Nilnag, Gulmarg and also to the Pir Ki Gali Mughal Road.
Several expeditions have been done by the mountaineers as place is renowned for some of the highest peaks in the Pir Panjal Mountain Range, such as the Sunset Peak (4746 m) and Tattakutti (4725 m). The most prominent attractions of the region include Doodh Ganga, Pakharpora Shrine, Nilnag Lake, Sang-e-Safed, Tosa Maidan and Charari Sharief.