Without mobile, internet connectivity, Aru’s tourism potential remains untapped

Without mobile, internet connectivity, Aru’s tourism potential remains untapped

Anantnag: At a time when remotest of villages have been brought on the internet connectivity map, this village in Pahalgam of Anantnag district – with immense tourism potential – is grappling to get a share of even mobile connectivity, leave alone any internet services.
Aru village, located some 12 kilometers from main town Phalagam, happens to be one of the very few destinations in Kashmir valley which is preferred by foreign tourists. The village’s pristine meadows locked in a beautiful valley attract every year hundreds of international tourists.
The locals, however, feel that the place is not getting even one-third of the number of tourists it deserves, for the sorry fact that it is still isolated in this age of internet and communications technology.
“Internet has made the world a global village but left out our village,” said Irfan Ahmad, a hotelier in Aru. He said that most of the tourists who do come to Aru do not stay here for the fear of getting disconnected from home and work.
“And the ones who do stay here, feel anxious throughout as they have no means of remaining in touch back home,” said Muzaffar Ahmad, another hotelier.
Ahmad is of the opinion that it is a “crime” for a tourist place to operate without mobile or internet services. “Besides, the local population bears the brunt day in and day out of being disconnected from the outside world,” he added.
The issue has been raised by the local residents and hoteliers time and again with the authorities. Last year in September, finally, the state-owned BSNL announced that Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) will be laid in the village, provided that the winters are not too harsh.
The process is yet to begin.
Sources in Anantnag district administration told Kashmir Reader that a private firm was trying to establish itself in Aru but its attempts for now have halted.
Assistant Director Tourism Zahida Parveen told Kashmir Reader that her department was taking pains in this regard.
“I have been told that BSNL will start work in the next two months and it will be completed on priority basis. We are exploring other options as well,” Parveen said, while acknowledging that the tourism development’s plans are hindered by lack of connectivity.
The people in Aru, meanwhile, are seeing yet another tourist season slip away without bringing the potential benefits.