BY: Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Mar 25: At a time when Kashmir was all set to showcase the beauty of Asia’s largest Tulip garden overlooking famous Dal Lake in Srinagar where 13 lakh tulips were on a display for guests from March 25 onwards, the deadly Covid-19 played a spoil-sport forcing the closure of the garden. The closure of garden has not caused a dent to the already ailing tourism sector but resulted in the losses of Rs 1000 Crore to Tulip garden and all its associated sectors that include tourism, vendors, shikara owners, houseboat owners, hoteliers, and last but not the least cab drivers.
“For that maintenance of garden and importing Tulip bulbs, we would have spent Rs 60 Rs 80 lakh,” Tulip garden incharge, Sheikh Altaf told wire service. He said that they were planning to keep the garden open for 45 days this season with the expectation that at least two lakh guests including locals and tourists would visit the garden. “That would have fetched us Rs 1 Crore which would go directly to the treasury of J&K UT,” he said. “We are not able to earn that Rs 1 crore. What is more important the allied sectors like houseboat, shikara wallas, tour operators, street vendors, stall owners, tea sellers, barbecue sellers, cab drivers, hoteliers and many other sectors associated with the Tulip garden have borne the brunt. And total losses of Tulip garden and all these allied sectors is not less than Rs 1000 Crore, but it’s a huge chain which has broken apart due to Covid-19.”
As the garden was set to open between March 25 to April 1 any time this year but will remain closed now till Covid-19 threat is over. The Floriculture department had introduced “Cherry garden theme” on the lines of Japan while as different varieties of flowers will be kept on a display at the entry and exit points to woo guests.
This year, the department had introduced one lakh additional Tulips to its 12 lakh bulbs in the garden. A water channel in the backyards of the garden to attract visitors and to prolong their stay in the garden was also a major attraction. Last year 2.58 lakh visitors including foreign and domestic tourists visited the garden.—(KNO)