By MOOL RAJ
Numerous places in the State continue to remain “untapped” for becoming attractive tourist spots. With gradual increase in the Gross Domestic product (GDP), variations of short term notwithstanding, standard of living improves and it has a large impact on everyone in the economy, higher salaries (wage revisions etc) and higher wages are paid and that in turn, leads to more spending on goods and services. People tend to spend a part of incomes on sightseeing, visiting new tourist spots and staying for a few days resulting in tourism picking up and with it associated economic activities too get a boost. Tourism, these days throughout the world, is considered as one of the major contributory factors in generating employment and increase in incomes.
With this background, Pir Panchal deserves to be promoted as a tourist destination, rather a major tourist place. The region is best described as a treasure of heritage and adventure tourism. Those tourists and students interested in perusing history and heritage in manner of “on the spot”, can find Pir Panchal Range as very interesting and attractive. The State has hitherto not been giving the required attention to this prospective major tourist place and even belatedly, no concrete steps are taken in this regard. It is surprising that even the State Tourism Authority’s directions in the subject matter are dared to be impeded. In other words, Rajouri and Poonch Tourism Development Authorities do not appear to be taking notable steps in development of the necessary infrastructure in consonance with the directions of Directorate Of Tourism Jammu and Kashmir presided over the Governing Body meetings of the twin Tourism Development Authorities last year and where major decisions were taken in this regard.
In this connexion, those spots in particular were required to be developed which were heritage sites found along the Mughal Road like Peer Ki Gali, Noori Chamb waterfall, Chingus, Mughal Sarai, Bhimber Gali, Thanamandi and old Poonch Fort. For trekkers, climbers, adventurers lovers of scenic picturesque landscapes too Pir Panchal range provides enough frolic, fun and enjoying of mesmerizing natural beauty. It will not be any exaggeration to say that fortune is knocking at our doors, but we do not respond as we are still neophytes in exposing untapped areas to the vast bubbling market of tourism.
Before major steps in matters of building necessary infrastructure were taken, it is hard to comprehend as to why so far, even food points, view points, way side facilities and the like have not been made available along the road even for passersby, those driving past or commuting on this scenic road .The same indifferent attitude is seen in respect of exploring possibility of a cable car project up to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah in Rajouri and an artificial lake at Tata Pani. The project cost of Tata Pani artificial lake, though revised and divided into two parts or phases, did not impress the concerned authorities to warm up to the project. It is really stunning to see that even toilet blocks along the road are not built for convenience of people and tourists despite availability of land. The same approach is rife in establishment of amusement park at places like Kotranka, Mankote and Jawhar Nagar.
The conventional approach of looking at Tourism Industry with skepticism is tantamount to have the neck on the line in that not only are various employment opportunities associated with exploring new areas to be known as tourist spots blocked but the overall economy of the State too is affected. “Perform or perish” is the axiom in today’s world in each and every sphere of the economy, tourism and associated issues are no exception. The reasons as to why despite the directions, nothing tangible is done in making Pir Panchal a major tourism destination, must be made known and the concerned authorities I want to ask why there is delay in boosting tourism in this range ?
(The author is Environmental Science Lecturer hail from Village Bhagota Distt &Teh Doda.Views are his personal)