Tourists bring cheer to Valley people: Mufti
4 October 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Saying that visit of every tourist to the State is a step towards normalcy and peace, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today asserted that peace has to dawn on Kashmir as it is yearning of its people Inaugurating the 15-day Pahalgam Festival at the picturesque resort here this afternoon, the Chief Minister said that the Government is making serious effort to promote tourism to bring cheers to the people as this activity has a multiplying effect including the economic benefit to thousands of people whose livelihood largely depends on it. He said tourism infrastructure is being expanded to cater to the requirements of the tourists. He said Development Authorities set up for planned development of tourist resorts by the coalition Government have done a good work and things would further start looking up in a due course of time that would help in popularizing various destinations of the State. Referring to Pahalgam tourist resort, the Chief Minister said that in view of the vastness of the area, there is a greater scope for development and the Authority must prepare a perspective plan that should meet the tourist requirements over the years without disturbing the natural settings and environment. The Chief Minister referred to the Indo- Pak ties and said that the peace initiative that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took from Kashmir is bound to fructify into a lasting peace. He said whatever happened last week, both nations know well that there is no way out except for pursuing dialogue as people of both countries overwhelmingly want friendly ties. He said the common minimum programme of the five-party coalition Government also specifically mentions that dialogue is the only alternative to address internal and external dimensions of Kashmir imbroglio and we are pursuing it. He said his Government would continue to follow this approach to the problem and is confident that a solution would be found out for a lasting peace. He said since the process is time consuming, the Government has to address other problems concerning day-to-day life of the people of the State. Mufti Sayeed expressed optimism that Jammu and Kashmir would once again become an abode of peace and tranquility, not because he or his Government is endeavouring for it but because it is the resolve of the people of the State. The Chief Minister said that Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering is being shifted to Pahalgam and then to Aru that would also give boost to adventure tourism. Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma said that the successful conduct of Amarnath yatra in which 1.56 lakh pilgrims participated, arrival of more than 1.60 lakh tourists in Kashmir valley, holding of Inter-State Council meeting and over 100 national and international conferences, Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave in Srinagar and visits of President, Prime Minister, Congress Chief and nearly 440 MPs in connection with parliamentary standing committees meetings have helped in restoration of normalcy in the State. The inauguration of the function was marked by a large participation of locals. Several tourists were also seen in the crowd. Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, Abdul Latif Deva assured the Chief Minister that the Authority will come upto his expectations and the resort would be developed as round the year destination. Earlier, as part of the fortnight long festival, the Chief Minister laid foundation stones of two projects. One related to setting up of Kolhai Park spreading over 150 kanals. It will involve a cost of Rs. 20 lakh. The second project is municipal shopping arcade involving Rs. one crore. As many as 125 shops are proposed to be constructed which include 25 shops reserved for shopkeepers affected by beautification drive at Mina Bazar and Bus Stand. The project taken up by Pahalgam Development Authority is self-sustaining and environment friendly. Earlier, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inaugurated the festival amidst Kashmiri folk lores and dances at a largely attended function organized by Pahalgam Development Authority in the lush green lawns of the Pahalgam Club this afternoon. It was an event marked by festivity, riot of colours, excitement and enthusiasm of participating gathering as well as the artists. The festival began with wan wun, traditional marriage song sung by Kashmiri women on the arrival of the bridegroom. About two dozen cultural items were presented, each was better than the other, with a total involvement of hundreds of participating locals who had come with their families in a typical festive mood, and some tourists. The two and a half hour programme was the beginning of such musical and cultural feast that the tourist festival would unfold on the weekends during the fortnight. It was an effort widely appreciated by one and all. Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma announced a prize of Rs. 50,000 on behalf of the Chief Minister and another of Rs. 25,000 on his own behalf for the students of various educational institutions who participated in the cultural bonanza at the festival.