PATNITOP: To develop Patnitop as a major independent tourist destination, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today took wide ranging decisions of infrastructural and recreational importance.
Mantalai, Sanasar, Baghliar, Dudu Basantgarh, Batote and Kud will be promoted as a Tourist Circuit with Patnitop as its hub, Sayeed said while chairing the Board meeting of Patnitop Development Authority here today.
The Chief Minister asked the Tourism Department to develop market strategy for better promotion of Patnitop Circuit.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Minister for Forest and Social Welfare Bali Baghat, Minister of State for Finance and IT Pawan Kumar besides several senior officials of various departments aslo participated in the meeting.
Placing high priority on starting work on Patnitop Ropeway, Chief Minister granted one week to the concerned authorities to make a final presentation, in view of the changes in the alignment recommended by the Forest Advisory Committee.
He also issued instructions for removing impediments so that work on the project is expedited.
In order to attract captive segment of Vaishno Devi and Patnitop-bound tourists, the CM also approved the basic concept paper on developing tourism around Baghliar Dam, which primarily focuses on water-based leisure activities.
Under the project, villages of Dharmund and Baghliar will offer family packages in water-sports activities like floating cruises, viewpoint for waterfalls, camp life, tented and cottage accommodation. It will draw visitors towards a new concept of leisure tourism in Jammu.
Emphasising upon scientific disposal of waste, Mufti Sayeed directed Deputy Commissioner Udhampur to identify a land for dumping site.
The Chief Minister observed that underground cabling of power lines and enhancing capacity of Shivgarh Water Reservoir are of paramount importance to promote Patnitop as weekend and weekdays' destination. He also asked Commissioner Secretary Tourism to formulate a plan for ensuring uninterrupted power supply at the resort.
In order to sustain footprint of tourists to Patnitop after the opening of Chenani-Nashri Tunnel for vehicular traffic, Mufti Sayeed directed the Tourism Department to conceive a plan which envisages setting up of add-on attractions like Multiplex, Amusement Park and a Toy Train.
He said after the tunnel becomes operational, Public Works Department will be assigned full-time responsibility of maintaining the Chenani-Patnitop and Kalar-Gorikund roads.
Stating that tourism is inextricably linked to quality of environment, the Chief Minister called for expediting notification of Zonal Master Plans for the planned development of Patnitop.
He also called for simplification of the procedure for providing hassle-free building permissions to locals living in the notified area of the Developmental Authority.
The Chief Minister also issued directions for replacing traditional streetlights with solar lights to improve the aesthetic ambience of the resort.
He was also informed that 14 huts belonging to Jammu and Kashmir Tourism development corporation have been upgraded so that better facilities are provided to night-bound tourists at the resort.
Mufti also released Rs 20 lakh for developing wayside viewpoints at Dudu Basantgarh for tourists.
The Chief Minister also directed the officials to upgrade facilities in cheap accommodations at Kud and Sanasar so that the tourist intake capacity of Patnitop Circuit is enhanced.
In a separate meeting with stakeholders, the Chief Minister issued directions for setting up a helipad to operate chopper services for high-end tourists, opening of J&K Bank branch with ATM facility, dedicated pony track and construction of toilet points on user charges basis for the visitors.
For development of Sanasar, the Chief Minister was briefed that a Nine-Hole Golf Course has been laid, besides conservation of lake and up-gradation of hutments to facilitate tourists.
While directing the concerned authorities to explore potential for adventure tourism of Sanasar, the CM desired that the Amusement Park be set up on Sanasar-Patnitop Road "so that both areas are developed as family destinations".
Director Tourism, Jammu, made a presentation before the Chief Minister about various steps taken to develop Mantalai as an International Yoga Centre over 125 acre of land under Prasad, a Ministry of Tourism scheme.
He said a heliport, eco-log huts, convention centre, amphitheatre and tourist walkways will also be developed for promotion of Mantalai as a "Centre for Excellence for Yoga".
The Chief Minister gave directions for carrying out a survey for laying of ropeway between Patnitop and Mantalai. At a distance of 32 km from Chenani, Mantalai is ideally suited to attract high-end tourists as an airstrip for fixed-wing planes already exists there.
The Chief Minister fixed a deadline of one month for Director Tourism, Jammu, to prepare a detailed project report so that the work on the 'Theme-based World Class Cultural Centre' could be started at an earliest.