By: Aubaid Ahmed Akhoon
Taking time out of my busy schedule, a few days ago I started my journey to Pahalgam, a world famous tourist destination, with my dear friends from my hometown Panderathan The weather was also pleasant and the movement of vehicles on the National Highway was also limited in the early morning otherwise this route always becomes a cause of headache due to traffic jams.
Every year we like to go to the valleys of Pahalgam, but due to the current unfavorable conditions, after a long time we were lucky enough to go to our favorite tourist destination. During travel I was imagining that Pahalgam would be even more beautiful today as tourist spots were closed for sightseeing due to Covid 19 restrictions and it was a good opportunity to make the valleys of Pahalgam even more attractive and captivating. But when I reached Pahalgam I found no change.
During the trip I did not see any proper arrangement of cleanliness. There were only very few dustbins. Even if there were dustbins at some places, they could be seen waiting for the scavengers.
There were piles of dirt everywhere. Sanitation and drinking water management which are among the basic facilities were missing.
It is becoming more and more difficult for middle class people to visit tourist places as every park has been brought under the category of Paid Park. I saw many tourists visiting parks where there was no proper seating arrangement but still one had to pay the entry fee. Even the parking of the vehicles was not properly arranged.
Walking through beautiful valleys when we turned towards the hotels for overnight stay, the lodging charges were much higher than I expected, despite having the same facilities in each hotel, there were huge differences in lodging charges, same was the situation in restaurants.
I also saw many people staying in small tents. which they had brought along for many nights. In the evening, I saw the same people cooking various dishes by burning green gold and I did not see any official there to stop them from doing so. Although the Wildlife Advisory says it is forbidden to spend the night in the open in such places.
During travel in some places in Pahalgam I saw rotten and old wooden bridges which were not safe to cross but still I saw people walking on them. If they are not repaired in time, a big accident could happen anytime. Every day we get news of suicide and many accidents happen in the process of taking beautiful pictures which are commonly called selfies. The department should look for places where such accidents are more likely to happen and put restrictions there so that incidents like “Aharbal” do not happen again.
The tourism sector plays an important role in the economy of Kashmir. Millions of people are directly or indirectly involved with this trade. To promote tourism, the Tourism Department should use all the means of communication (print and electronic). In modern times, communication is an effective and convenient way to boost the economy. Tourism department must provide better facilities and services for tourists and visitors it’s evident that when we do not provide better management to non-local tourists here, they will go ahead and present the negative representation of Kashmir in their regions. Be it Gulmarg, Doodh Pathri , Sonamarg, Yusmarg or any other tourist destination, all lack basic amenities everywhere. The Tourism Department still has a long way to go.
Author is Columnist is Working as Sr Edp head at DD Target PMT Parraypora India’s Reputed institute For Medical/JEE Coaching and can be reached at email@example.com