By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: The picturesque golf course has been allegedly maintained in an unprofessional way, thus has left its designers disappointed, who have approached the top officials in the tourism department to seek their attention.
The maintenance of the golf ground at the famed spot in an unprofessional manner by the tourism authorities is also causing huge losses to the state exchequer as it fails to generate any revenue, the experts here said.
Ranjit Nanda, an expert golfer and designer who designed the 18 hole golf ground a decade ago visited the ground two days back. Nanda on seeing the condition of the golf ground was disappointed and disturbed.
A source working at the golf ground said that the designer, after having a look all around, expressed extreme disappointment over the condition of the golf course.
“Though he had come in a personal capacity this time but on seeing the overall condition of the ground he even asked the laborers involved in its maintenance as to how they have ruined this asset,” the source said.
Lidder valley golf course was expanded and upgraded from 9 to 18 holes over a decade ago after acquiring the land from local residents. The golf ground was developed at the cost of 30 crore rupees and since then, authorities spend 70 lakhs to one crore rupees on its maintenance every year. The maintenance of the golf ground is outsourced to contractors who have no knowledge about golf.
After leaving the golf course, the first thing Nanda did was to raise the issue with top authorities and briefed them about the need for the revival of the golf ground.
Speaking to Precious Kashmir, Nanda said that he was deeply pained to see the condition of golf ground Pahalgam.
“Greens are virtually in ruins. When I had last visited the golf ground it was fine but this time its condition disturbed me,” Nanda said.
He said that golf course Pahalgam is an asset for the government here and has the potential of attracting high end golfers if taken care of professionally.
“I have spoken to the commissioner secretary tourism and members of the advisory committee on the golf course. I told them everything clearly that you cannot afford to ignore this asset and stressed on its revival,” he said.
The response on their part, he said, was very positive and all of them are really serious with regard to reviving it.
“It is one of the best golf destinations. And when you are selling it globally it has to be managed differently. Golfers can get the best packages in Bangkok, Thailand and other places. So you should make it such a destination that it should attract the golfers. But it is not only about the golf course but everything around it because when you are selling a destination globally everything has to be first class,” the designer said.
He said that they have a lot of time to revive it. “If we can do it in the next three months we will have the best season next year,” Nanda told Precious Kashmir.
At the time of inauguration, the then chief minister had declared the golf course as an international golf ground claiming that it would attract high end golfers from not only India but across the world.
However, sources in the tourism department said that the department for over a decade has only been spending crores on its maintenance but does not get any revenue from it.
A source said that the department might have spent around 50 crore rupees on the development and maintenance of the golf ground in the last one decade but the revenue generated will not be more than five crores in all these years.
A top officer in the tourism department admitted that a lot of money is being spent on maintenance of the golf course without any revenue generated from it.