Arrangement temporary: Director Tourism
Srinagar: Constructed at a cost of around 12 crore rupees to cater to the inflow of tourists, the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) at Nowgam, near railway station, has been occupied by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu Kashmir Armed Forces for last six months.
The tourist centre was projected as a “state-of-the-art” facility, with a “blend of colonial era and Kashmiri architecture”, having all facilities for tourists ranging from reservation counters to currency exchange.
The facility has three main buildings and a hut, aligned in a triangular shape around a fountain in the middle of a garden. The prime building on the front is occupied by the CRPF and another by armed police. The Maintenance section of Tourism department operates from the third building.
According to the officials, the CRPF has been there for more than six months and they had “no information” as to why and how they arrived.
“The Maintenance section of tourism department operates from here, we can give you information on that, but how and why the CRPF came we have no information on that. The information would be available with the directorate office in Srinagar,” a senior official said.
The tourist centre looks like a typical CRPF camp secured by barbed wires and sand bags on the windows. Uniforms and undergarments of troopers are hanging from wires, and half-naked troops can be seen marching the premises with buckets of water. In a corner, dozens of troops were bathing in the open.
A separate bunker has been built near an open space in the back side of the building, facing other two buildings and the lawn. Nearby, under the shade of “blend of colonial and Kashmir architecture roof” is a space dedicated to the battalion salon, where the troopers could be seen shaving and having haircuts.
Another building, which was manned by a cop on the entrance, has a registration counter for Yatris which is accessible only from outside. Many Yatris could be seen filling registration forms in the lawn.
The tourist centre was inaugurated on December 5 2010 by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
According to an official handout, the center is said to possess modern facilities including 48 rooms, a food court, coffee shops, a conference hall, restaurant, an information counter, a shopping mall, rock-climbing wall, amusement park and Internet facility.
Director Tourism Kashmir, Tassaduq Jeelani, told Kashmir Reader that the “matter” has been raised with the concerned authority and the “arrangement is temporary” and the buildings would be “vacated soon.”
“I visited the facility on Saturday and the issue was raised with the concerned agencies. This is a temporary arrangement for the Yatra period and the troopers would vacate the buildings soon,” Jeelani said. “We have also directed our engineers for any damages because the buildings were also hit with floods. I have already given the direction to the estates section.”